Tag Archives: amazon

Self-Publishing on Amazon

So many people desire to write a book someday in their lifetime, even though they do not regard themselves as writers. The best time to write that book is now. Self-publishing is no longer stigmatized, and there are numerous success stories of first-time authors who are making a name for themselves. They accomplish this by publishing their ebooks on Amazon.

Forget everything you know about Amazon for a minute. It’s not just an online shopping web store or cart. Ask yourself why people like Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki publish exclusively on Amazon. It is a big deal.

•    Amazon is the largest paid search engine globally.

•    Amazon has dominated the book industry.

•    It’s review system is an authority metric even when people plan to buy elsewhere.  

•    It is a marketing machine when you start selling a given number of copies, it will refer your work to users who do not know about you. 

•    It is easy.  There are only a few sites that can get your book online and published in a matter of hours.

Step 1: Write

The first step to publishing an eBook is to write it, of course. You can do it in three drafts;

•    The “Outline Draft”. This is self-explanatory in that, you “Outline” on a blank page. Here you write a rough idea of the Table of Contents; outlining every chapter, jotting down your thoughts, stories and scenes. It does not have to be pretty; just make it.

•    The Review Draft. Develop your story and how you want to tell it.

•    Editorial Draft. Here you have to get a professional editor to help your story structure and style elements.

Step 2: Format and Design

Once you like what you have written, do this;

1.    Format your book for Kindle. You can do this for yourself by using Amazon’s easy tutorship. Or hire someone. 

2.    Design your cover. Hire someone. 

3.    Double check. Get friends to check for errors.

Step 3: Publish

Do not be intimidated, this part is not as scary as most people think. Just sign in to kdp.amazon.com (make sure you have an Amazon account).

Step 4: Promote

Before you start promoting your book, get reviews. Ask friends to leave a review of the book. 

Step 5: Launch

Every launch should be unique but some of the tactics that work include sending an email to friends, family and fans, offering incentives to those who will buy the book, marketing on social media and sharing your book with book directories and online forums among others.

Considering the effort and time you put into writing, editing and designing your book, it is only normal you find it priceless. However, if you are looking to sell your book, you have to price it reasonably. How do you know if the price you have set is too low, too high or just right? 

That said, you must come to terms with this one fact;

Selling Your EBook Will Not Make You Rich

Hurtful, but it is the truth. Very few authors have become rich selling e-books. The demand for e-books is on the rise, but the market is extremely saturated, and the prices are quite low, you can barely make a profit. 

Kindle Direct Publishing has parameters in place for ebook pricing depending on the size of the e-book. Amazon’s parameters can hardly help you price your ebook correctly, and it may end up on the worst-selling list. A wise thing to do would be to ensure that you meet the minimum file size requirements. 

The genre is probably the most important factor to consider when pricing your ebook. Is your book poetry, nonfiction, or fiction? Is the sub-genre well known? Make sure to have a look at other e-books in your genre and compare the prices. $2.99 is always a good starting price. 

Your book’s page count will determine its price. File size may be the primary concern when it comes to Amazon’s parameters, but the page count is what tells the buyer how much content they will get. In most cases, books with a page count of 400 and above are always priced higher ($4.99 and above), and those with 400 pages and below are priced lower (below $4.99).

Comparable titles are a great deal. Do a lot of research and find out how authors with similar books have priced them. These books will be your biggest competitors, and you need to price yours competitively. If you go with this advice, you may have to price your ebook lower (or higher) than you expected. But you have to get the price right. 

The same way you researched books identical to yours, now you must study the authors that are similar to you. Research the writers who have a catalog of work like yours (this is easier if you only write for a single genre). 

You may notice that your book is not selling yet you have promoted it tirelessly on social media, a fantastic website and other active campaigns—then you should consider lowering your price. 

Every time you raise or lower your price, check your competitors’ books and ensure that you are within the price range. Pricing your books high may benefit you because of “perceived value” but increasing the price too much will make buyers prefer your competition’s work over yours. Make a point of always pricing your books just right.  

Rise of Automation : Technology and Robots Will Replace Humans Now Available on Amazon and Itunes

You probably have an idea how robots will affect human workers negatively. Chief players in the tech world like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have provided their solutions; universal basic income or robot tax. But amidst the serious warnings and the utter sci-fi utopias, the human pain that will follow future job loss seems to be forgotten.

15 years or so from now, the US economy will lose 38% of its jobs to automation. This rate is alarming. And yet, many people maintain that automation should not and cannot slow down.

However, what if the progress is decelerated a little? Just enough to match the slow fashion and slow food trends maybe? At the very least, people should rethink the ownership of autonomous trucks. Robotization would not be that bad if truck drivers owned the automatic trucks instead of having a corporation own them all. In the meantime; robotization is a real threat and poses a danger to crucial human infrastructure.

Table of Contents


Elon Musk and Universal Basic Income
Silicon Valley and the Automated Future
Job Automation
Bill Gates and a Threat to Jobs
Artificial Intelligence and Automation
Auto Industry Jobs That Will Be Lost To Automation
The Rise of Automation and Coding
Cyber Security
Consumer Automation
Automation in the Healthcare Industry
Al Is the Future of Cybersecurity
The Future of Automation
Colleges: Jobs of the Future
Automation and Perception
Manage Automation and Jobs
Automation and the Future Economy

How to get reviews on Amazon once you’ve launched your book

Writing a book is hard work. As is marketing that book before and after launch. But when you distribute your book through Amazon, getting reviews may be the single most important thing to determine your book’s future success. There’s no secret formula, and no one way to garner the most reviews, but with a little research, a lot of patience, and a ton of outreach, those coveted reviews are but an email away.

Ask your existing readers or fan base

Whether you maintain a strong social media following, belong to many writing groups, or already have built-in readers from a previous book launch, your existing fans are your bread and butter. Since they already have an appreciation for you and your work, you are one step closer to converting them from fans to reviewers.

Now since they are already invested in you to a degree, they are also the best people to ask for a genuine review, the ones who buy your book on Amazon and review it. How do you get them to do this? Compose a strong email to them appealing to their passion for and knowledge of your genre, as well as their previous interest in your work. For some, that will be enough to pique their interest. For others, you may want to offer to supply them with the book for free. This way you are getting genuine reviews since the books were purchased through the site, but you haven’t required them to buy your book to do so.

Contact Amazon’s top reviewers

The top reviewers for Amazon have earned their status for a reason; they review everything from books to electronics, and other consumers rank their reviews as useful. While you might assume these reviewers are out of your reach—after all, they likely receive hundreds of requests a day—they are still worth contacting. Even if only a few end up reviewing your book, their reviews could make all the difference.

  • To get started, decide how many reviews you are hoping to get. If you have your eye set on 25, you’ll want to reach out to at least 100 reviewers.
  • Take a look through the list of Amazon’s top reviewers, and create a spreadsheet where you can start logging info about your potential reviewers. You are looking for reviewers who have already reviewed books in your genre, and once you’ve found them, any additional information you can grab about them, including email addresses, and any personal interests.
  • Now, the art of the pitch. Spend time crafting a pitch letter that succinctly tells a brief summary of your book, why you’d like the specific reviewer to read it, and how you’d like to offer them a free copy. Include references to similar books they’ve already reviewed so they realize you have done your homework and it is not a blind request. If this seems too time consuming, create a boilerplate review request with highlighted fields for personalization, such as their name, and recent books they’ve reviewed. This way, you can update the highlighted fields to quickly personalize your pitch request for each reviewer.
  • Follow-up is key. Every time you reach out to a reviewer, add the date to your excel spreadsheet so you can keep track of when you sent your letter, who says yes, who says no, and who never replies. Follow up two weeks after your initial request with a friendly and simple message asking if they have had a chance to read through your request and that you look forward to hearing back.
  • 5. Close the deal. For those reviewers who do respond, make sure you are providing them with what they need (additional biographical info on you, previous works, whatever) and that you are timely in your communications back to them.

Get in touch with the book blogger community

Book bloggers have the uncanny ability to passionately and tirelessly spread the word about their views—and reviews. Unfortunately, many review books on their personal websites and blogs, and not all are posting those reviews (or variations thereof) on Amazon. But don’t let that stop you.

  • Start by looking for bloggers who review titles in your genre. You can start with Google. If you’re writing a thriller, type thriller + book blogger into the search field and see what comes up.
  • Next, go through the book blogger directories for WordPress and Blogmetrics.
  • Just like with the Amazon top reviewers, you are looking to create a short list of reviewers who favor your genre, and who will welcome relevant pitches.
  • Once you’ve got your list, go back to the boilerplate form letter you were using for the Amazon top reviewers. Tweak it a little, making sure to reference things spotted on the blogger’s pages, and adding any commonalities. Email them (if contact info is available on their site) or use the contact form on their site if available.
  • As above, be professional in your follow-up activities.

While soliciting reviews can seem to take a lot of time and effort, their value cannot be underestimated. Reviews immediately add credibility to your book, communicating to potential customers that it is a worthy read. They also improve your book’s ranking when consumers are searching on Amazon, which is the primary reason to stay committed to getting reviews. If you’re able to move your title into earlier search pages, you’ll be discovered by readers who wouldn’t otherwise find you. And that, hopefully, will translate into more book sales.



Amazon wants to turn Lord of the Rings into the next Game of Thrones

Amazon Studios has been looking for a way to duplicate HBO’s success with Game of Thrones, and the company may have found a solution: adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings into a TV series. Variety reports that the company is currently in talks with Warner Bros. Television and the late author’s estate, and while discussions are said to be in “very early stages,” it is clearly a high priority, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos himself involved in the negotiations.

Amazon isn’t the only looking into the rights, according to Deadline, which reports that the Tolkien Estate is looking to sell the television rights to the iconic fantasy series to the tune of $200-250 million, and has approached Netflix and HBO as well. There appears to be some strings attached: the rights might not encompass all of the characters in the story. HBO has reportedly passed on the project.

Amazon Studios has unexpectedly found itself in the midst of a transition. Earlier this year, Bezos reportedly got involved with the creative direction of the studio, tasking the group with finding high-profile dramas like the hit HBO series that could have a broad, global appeal. Then last month, Amazon Studios executive Roy Price resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations, a move that led to additional resignations and a reshuffling of the studio’s executive ranks.

Image result for Lord of the Rings

If finding the next Game of Thrones is the goal, it’s hard to imagine a property more suited to the task then Tolkien’s series. The Lord of the Rings tells the story of Frodo Baggins, a young Hobbit who is tasked with destroying an artifact called the One Ring in the hopes of saving the world of Middle-earth. The books have been adapted multiple times over the years, with the most commercially — and critically — successful adaptation coming in the form of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy. (Jackson’s films adapting The Hobbit were markedly less successful.)

While the adaptation is far from certain — the deal hasn’t even been closed yet — this is the kind of project that could bring Amazon Studios a significant amount of attention, and draw in viewers across the world. While Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu have all made huge strides as original content creators, Amazon has yet to score with a far-reaching, cultural conversation piece the way that Netflix has with something like Stranger Things.

While The Lord of the Rings would certainly check all the Game of Thrones boxes when it comes to fantasy and adventure, it is also worth noting that the books aren’t really known for being filled with the kind of sex-and-violence antics that HBO’s show has become synonymous with. On the other hand, Rings has one huge advantage: the books are actually finished.



Amazon Just Bought 3 Cryptocurrency Web Addresses and Nobody Knows Why

What, if anything, is Amazon planning to do in the cryptocurrency space? That’s the question after the cloud and retail giant was spotted registering three web domains relating to the field this week.

As first reported by Domain Name Wire, on Tuesday Amazon’s legal department secured the following web addresses: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazoncryptocurrencies.com.

The company already has amazonbitcoin.com, but that registration took place in 2013—the address now automatically forwards to Amazon’s main site, whereas the more recently-registered domains don’t serve up anything yet.

After Domain Name Wire broke the news of Amazon’s latest registrations on Wednesday, some guy called Byron Wiebe also registered amazonripple.com, which forwards to the website for the Ripple cryptocurrency.

It is highly possible that Amazon amzn only registered its cryptocurrency-related domains in order to stop other people registering them in this way, which potentially infringes on the company’s trademark.


As CNBC pointed out, Amazon Pay vice president Patrick Gauthier said only last month that the company has no plans to accept payments in virtual currency, due to a lack of demand. That’s entirely plausible, especially as bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, is currently more lucrative as a speculative asset than as a tool for actually paying for stuff.

But how about that Ethereum-related domain? The second-biggest cryptocurrency is not appreciating in value like bitcoin is, and its underlying blockchain mechanism also has more uses, being touted as a repository for self-executing “smart contracts” and other tools for technical decentralization.

Joseph Lubin, one of Ethereum’s co-founders, said just last week that such tools could be used to build a decentralized competitor to Amazon, made up of “many different actors with different roles.”


But that’s more about blockchain technology than cryptocurrencies. Maybe Amazon’s move has something to do with mining cryptocurrencies in its cloud? As recent analyses have shown, cryptocurrency mining is a scarily energy-intensive activity, so perhaps the company has figured out some clever way to mine smarter.

This is just spitballing, though. Really, at this point only Amazon knows why it registered those domains, and—we have asked—it’s not telling.



Vampyre: New Moon Now Available on Amazon and iTunes

Apart from the realm of humans and far from the light of day, a complex structure hides from many eyes. Here Val, a vampyre that follows the path of the Vigilante draws blood in search of justice and a path that she can call her own. She is joined by her lover Henrik, a vampyre from another path and together they are drawn into a world of intrigue that threatens to tear the world they know apart.

Soon the pair finds themselves part of a conflict older than them both, forced to seek allies in people that seem should be mortal enemies. In a world with so many different monstrous individuals it seems that only unity and the strength of overcoming differences can prevail.

A hidden organization has shown itself, one that seems to have been pulling the strings for longer than anyone truly knows. This order seeks a war to keep the factions separate in order to find an evil power that threatens to destroy everything.

Can Val and her uneasy companions find the answers they seek in time to prevent a war and the end of everything, in both the darkness and the light?

Amazon offers $30 off Kindle devices to celebrate tenth birthday

It’s been 10 years since Amazon announced the first Kindle e-reader. The device sees its tenth birthday next month, and Amazon is offering a discount to celebrate. Amazon is knocking $30 off the price of Kindle devices, for a limited time. 

The offer is applicable on the Amazon Kindle, the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Voyage. The Kindle will be priced at $49.99 now, while the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage will be sold at $89.99 and $169.99, respectively. The devices were earlier sold at $79.99, $119.99 and $199.99, respectively.

Unfortunately, none of the versions of the Kindle Oasis made the cut for this deal. Amazon’s flagship Kindle continues to sell for $249.99 and it scheduled to start selling from October 31. The company is also giving you discounts on Kindle ebooks. You can get 80% off “top-selling books”, while there’s a free $5 credit on Kindle ebooks, for select customers. You can get that deal through this link.

The Kindle deals are available right away, starting from October 23. They will be available till October 25, although the Kindle actually turns ten on November 19.



Amazon’s invasion of Kohl’s has begun

Starting today, Kohl’s is officially getting in bed with Amazon.

The discount department store is starting to accept returns of Amazon orders at 10 of what will eventually be 82 of its Chicago and Los Angeles stores. Kohl’s has also begun unveiling mini Amazon shops in some its locations, where customers will be able to try out and purchase gadgets like the Amazon Echo and Kindle.

The tie-ups, which were first announced last month, give Amazon added distribution for its growing portfolio of consumer gadgets as well as a free return option for its customers that don’t want to deal with the hassle of packing and shipping orders they don’t want.

For Kohl’s, the moves amount to a risky bet that the additional customer traffic resulting from the deal will outweigh the downside of strengthening Amazon, which has increasingly become a threat to every mid-market and low-price department store.

In an interview with Fortune, Kohl’s soon-to-be CEO Michelle Gass defended the move. “We’re going through one of, if not the, most transformational times in retail, and we have to really think differently,” she said. “The retail market is big so there is plenty of room for Amazon and Kohl’s to co-exist.”

But as Amazon continues to get more aggressive in Kohl’s core business of apparel sales — both through the creation of its own brands and deals with others like Nike — it’s fair to wonder how long a peaceful co-existence will be a reality.

It’s also fair to wonder whether there’s any thinking on Kohl’s part that the partnerships could turn into proof points in a pitch to Amazon on buying the chain.



The Alkaline Diet CookBook: The Alkaline Meal Plan to Balance your pH, Reduce Body Acid, Lose Weight and Have Amazing Health Audio Book


33 Strategies of Kama Sutra : Make Her Scream – Last Longer, Come Harder, And Be The Best She’s Ever Had Audio Book


Mastering Apps: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Apps Free on Amazon

Communication technologies are constantly advancing to keep up with the times. Messaging apps are huge right now. Completely overtaking social media by becoming the primary way we communicate online.

When most entrepreneurs are starting out, they like to read articles on “how to make a killing with your first app,” “building the multi-billion dollar app” and most books related to this topic. They are glued to this side of the story and blinded to the other. To have your own success story you have to find out why other apps fail. The painful truth is there are more failed apps than successful ones.

Amazon’s Clever Solution to Stolen Deliveries: Your Trunk

A recent study suggests that nearly eight out of 10 Americans shop online. This is a boon for companies like Amazon that specialize in home delivery, but also for more unsavory enterprises—including the crooks who specialize in swiping people’s packages.

These so-called “porch pirates” are a growing nuisance for both consumers and businesses, which is why a proposed solution by Amazon is a big deal.

As CNBC reports, the solution involves Amazon working with a maker of “smart” license plates to allow delivery people to have temporary access to customers’ car trunks.

Phrame’s product fits around a license plate and contains a secure box that holds the keys to the car. Users unlock the box with their smartphone, and can grant access to others — such as delivery drivers — remotely.

The upshot is that Amazon customers using the service wouldn’t have to worry about their package sitting unattended for porch pirates to pilfer, or about their merchandise getting damaged by rain or snow. Instead, the package would simply be waiting for them in their car.

Image result for Amazon's Clever Solution to Stolen Deliveries: Your Trunk

The report does not provide specific details of how exactly the system will work, but it likely involves a smart sensor granting access to verified delivery agents like UPS and FedEx for a short window of time. Customers would presumably receive a notification on their Amazon app when the delivery is complete.

Unnamed sources also told CNBC that Amazon is working on a similar system involving smart doorbells. If this is the case, it’s less obvious how this would work in practice: While many customers might be okay with granting access to their car trunk, fewer would be comfortable opening their front door of their home while they were away.

If Amazon pulls this off, consumers wouldn’t be the only ones who benefit. Businesses are also harmed by package theft, which creates additional costs and can create a poor shopping experience that deters customers from ordering again. Likewise, a system of car trunk drop-offs would also improve efficiency by reducing the number of times truck drivers attempt a delivery.




Amazon’s new Kindle Oasis is waterproof and has a bigger screen

We had some minor heart palpitations the other week when Amazon skipped the Kindle during a deluge of product announcements. But have no fear, the company insists that it’s still committed to its hardware roots — after all (and I was honestly a bit surprised at this revelation), this past Prime Day was apparently the best selling day for Kindles in the U.S. and the world. The Kindle oversight was due to the fact that the “event was focused on Alexa.”

The company is celebrating the line’s upcoming 10th anniversary (November 19) a month or so early with an update to the the high-end Kindle Oasis. The new Kindle is the first to get waterproofing, rating at IP8 for trips to the beach and bath tub reading (a feature Kobo has offered for a couple of generations now). It also brings Audible playback directly to the device courtesy of Bluetooth audio.

The upgrade comes roughly a year-and-a-half after the first Oasis marked the company’s recommitment to the line. As the most premium Kindle reader, the device is targeted at a relatively narrow band of consumers — those who want an essentially single-function device with a premium build. And are willing to pay for it. The new Oasis starts at $249 and goes up from there.

That price gets you the company’s highest resolution screen (300 PPI), this time in a seven-inch form factor. That’s a full inch larger than the default e-reader screen size the company seemingly settled on generations ago. Sure, it’s flirted with larger screens, most notably with the massive Kindle DX, but six inches has always been the sweet spot for both Amazon and much of the competition.

Of course, the perks of a larger screen are pretty clear right off the bat. You get 30 percent more text on the page at a time, which means fewer page turns. It also has a marked advantage when attempting to read image-heavy works, like comics, on the thing (though comics on an e-reader is still a big no-go, as far as I’m concerned). The downside is equally apparent: a larger footprint.

Though Amazon assures me that, thanks to the relative thinness of the device, it’s managed to keep it small enough to slip into the pockets on a pair of pants. That’s always been the sort of benchmark for these products — of course, your individual results will vary, based on whether or not you live in Williamsburg.

The larger surface area also means the battery has more space to spread out — though the company has once again decided to go with that unsightly battery bump on the back. Concentrating the battery in one spot means the weight isn’t very evenly distributed, though it’s positioned so most of the heft rests in the hand, with the battery lip providing a spot where the reader can rest their hands.


The screen is also the brightest Amazon’s offered up. There are 12 LEDs on-board versus 10 in the last version, offering up a more uniform front lighting. The glass is also the strongest the company has offered up — it’s a proprietary equivalent to Gorilla Glass, according to Amazon. All small but nice touches one would expect from the company’s most premium reader.

The physical page turn buttons are back, too — honestly, that’s the thing that probably excited me the most about the original Oasis. Again, it’s a small thing, but I really missed that feature once Barnes & Noble stopped producing the Nook. The device also features an on-board accelerometer, so it automatically switches orientation based on how it’s being held — that’s good news for left-handed readers. It also means you can read with a horizontal orientation, though that’s probably of limited appeal.


Amazon introduces a waterproof Kindle Oasis with a seven-inch screen and Audible playback

How To Get On Every Best Seller List

In this case, velocity of sales is defined as “amount of book sales within a specific period.”

Selling 5,000 books in a year is a pretty solid performance, but it’s not going to get you on any of the big bestseller lists. Concentrate those sales in a WEEK, though, and now you’re looking at possibly hitting many of those lists.

That is the key concept you must understand for bestsellers lists: it’s not how many books you sell, it’s how many you sell in a given time. The time frame changes depending on this list, but the faster your velocity of sales—meaning, the more sales you pack into the shorter period of time—the better.

This is why setting a release date and concentrating your marketing around it is so important to hitting a best seller list. Setting a release date creates a manageable, self-contained window to concentrate your marketing efforts on, and use them as a mechanism to create this velocity of sales.

Reporting Sales Is Key

Like I explained in this piece, not all book sales “count” for all lists, because there is no list that actually measures all book sales from all outlets. In the purest sense, there is no such thing as a “real” bestseller list.

Each list has their own method of counting sales, and each list only counts a fraction of places that sell books. Amazon only counts books sold on Amazon. The New York Timesonly counts the physical bookstores that it tracks (and a few online sellers, but weigh them differently).

I’ll describe the counting methods of each list below, but the point is that you must know the way that lists counts sales, and then focus on creating velocity of sales in those ways only.

The Prerequisites For A Bestseller Campaign

In order to have a chance at getting on the major bestseller lists, you should do all of these things:

1. Get a traditional publishing deal: With the exception of a few fiction genres like romance and horror, The New York Times still won’t recognize any book that doesn’t come from one of the big New York publishing houses as being fit for their list.

This is why most of the self-published or hybrid published books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies over the past decade have never appeared on this list—they refuse to recognize them.

Example: James Altucher’s book, Choose Yourself. I helped him publish that through my publishing company (which turned into Book In A Box). It’s sold over 500k copies in the past 3 years. It even appeared on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller list—but no appearances on The New York Times Bestseller list, even though it has outsold 99% of the books that have appeared on that list since his came out.

Why? Because it’s not through a major New York publishing houses, so they won’t count it.

The Wall Street Journal and USA Today do recognize some self-pubbed titles, but it varies. There is no consistency with them.

2. Have a plan to get you 5k+ pre-orders: This cannot be a hope or a wish. If you don’t have at least 5k pre-ordered books—through sales channels that The New York Timessees as valid and counts in their list—you probably won’t hit the list.

That means ordered or bought at a store that reports its sales to the appropriate authority. You can’t just order 5k copies from your publisher. Most lists won’t count that.

How do you get 5k pre-orders? There are two basic ways to do this:

  1. You ALREADY have an audience who is willing to pre-order your book, or
  2. You spend a LOT of money to buy your way onto the list. This is basically “cheating,” and it usually costs more than 200k (I describe it below).

If you don’t have an audience or email list who are used to buying from you, but think you’ll “go on some podcasts and throw out some tweets” and get that level of pre-orders, you’re delusional. That does not work. Only a systematic plan that is very well-executed will work.

It is HARD to sell 5000 books in a year. To sell 5000 in a week is ridiculously difficult, as evidenced that only a very small percentage of all books published each year do it.

In fact, barring some extreme stroke of luck, the only way I’ve ever seen first-time (or lesser known) authors hit any significant bestseller list is by first creating a large platform with an installed audience that is waiting for the book, then selling the book into that audience.

Simply put: Creating an audience of buyers for your book prior to your release is the best way to get the velocity of sales needed to hit a bestseller list.

NOTE: If your goal is the New York Times Best Seller List, you probably need 10k pre-orders.

The Rules Of The Bestseller Lists Matter

Even though the odds are against you, it’s not impossible to do it. But if you want to have a shot at making a list, you MUST understand how bestseller lists work, so you don’t accidentally do something that interferes with the possibility of hitting the list.

For example, when Marc Ecko’s book, Unlabel, came out in 2013, it sold over 15,000 copies the first week. This was more than enough to hit The New York Times bestseller list, but the publisher had improperly listed Ecko’s book as an “art” book instead of a “business” book, and this decision alone kept the book off all the bestseller lists (well, that in combination with the fact The New York Times curates its list and decided to keep it off).

Know the rules to bestseller lists, because breaking them can keep your book off the list, even if it deserves to be there.

The New York Times Bestseller List

This is considered the most important bestseller list, and the only one that people tend to talk about by name. If you make this list, you put “New York Times Bestseller” on the top of books. Every other list generally gets a “National Bestseller” headline.  

Methodology: The weekly bestsellers are calculated from Monday to Monday. Here is how they describe their methodology on their own site:

Rankings reflect sales reported by vendors offering a wide range of general interest titles. The sales venues for print books include independent book retailers; national, regional and local chains; online and multimedia entertainment retailers; supermarkets, university, gift and discount department stores; and newsstands. E-book rankings reflect sales from leading online vendors of e-books in a variety of popular e-reader formats.

Ebook sales are presently included for all adult categories (fiction, non-fiction and advice) except for graphic novels, and all children’s categories with the exception of picture books. Titles are included regardless of whether they are published in both print and electronic formats or just one format. E-books available exclusively from a single vendor will be tracked at a future date.

Let me explain this. The Times list is a survey list, NOT a tabulation of total sales. This means that they poll a curated selection of booksellers to estimate sales. They literally decide which bookstores and retail outlets are “important” and then only count those sales, ignoring all other sales. They also heavily weight independent bookstore sales.

This is because they think that the type of people who shop at indie bookstores are more “serious” readers and thus their reading decisions deserve more attention. I’m serious, they have said this in public.

They also focus on individual sales, and try to not include bulk sales in their calculations. They do this to prevent people from buying their way onto the list (which we discuss below). If you sell 1000 copies to a company as part of a speaking engagement deal, this is a great way to move copies and make money, but it’s not very effective for hitting the list, because they won’t count it.

And notice how they say that they won’t count ebook sales from only one source? This is a direct shot at Amazon. They don’t like Amazon, and they don’t think ebooks are “real” books, and don’t want to see their ebook list dominated by Amazon’s Kindle list.

Make no mistake about it: this is all just as elitist and snobbish as it sounds.

They only recently started including ebooks in their lists, and they still heavily discount ebooks that have no print edition. Yes they track them, but they “count” their sales as less.

The reality is that even though the New York Times list is seen as the most prestigious, in many ways it’s the least connected to actual book selling reality.

Tips & Tricks:

  • For the most part, they do not count self-published books. You must be through a traditional publishing company to even have a shot at this list.
  • The category and window of your release all significantly impact the number of copies required to hit the NYT bestseller list, but 5,000 copies during any one-week period is the MINIMUM. I would recommend 10,000 most of the time, to be sure.
  • Have your publisher pick a down time in publishing; the less big books you have to compete with, the better.

The Wall Street Journal Bestseller List

This list is not as prestigious as the New York Times list, but for business books at least, carries almost as much social capital. And most of the weirdness and elitism from the NYT list doesn’t apply to the WSJ list.


How they describe their methodology, from their site:

Nielsen BookScan gathers point-of-sale book data from more than 16,000 locations across the U.S., representing about 85% of the nation’s book sales. Print-book data providers include all major booksellers (now inclusive of Walmart) and Web retailers, and food stores. E-book data providers include all major e-book retailers (Apple excepted). Free e-books and those sold for less than 99 cents are excluded. The fiction and nonfiction lists in all formats include both adult and juvenile titles; the business list includes only adult titles. The combined lists track sales by title across all print and e-book formats; audio books are excluded.

This is about as fair and reasonable as you can get, very much the opposite of the New York Times list.

Tips & Tricks:

  • It usually takes about 3000-5000 sales to hit the WSJ bestseller list.
  • You can absolutely get books that aren’t from traditional publishers on this list. I did it with James Altucher’s Choose Yourself, Josh Turner’s Connect, and many others.
  • There’s not much trick here. Just get the sales and you can get on this list. The important thing is making sure ALL of the sales come from different people and are during the opening week. Bulk sales are not counted.

The USA Today Bestseller List

This list used to be pulled straight from Nielsen Bookscan, but they recently changed, and started making it a curated list, more akin to the NYT than the WSJ. Rather than separate out the categories of books, the USA Today puts them all in one category.


From their website:

Each week, USA TODAY collects sales data from booksellers representing a variety of outlets: bookstore chains, independent bookstores, mass merchandisers and online retailers. Using that data, we determine the week’s 150 top-selling titles. The first 50 are published in the print version of USA TODAY each Thursday. The top 150 are published online. The rankings reflect sales from the previous Monday through Sunday.

USA TODAY’s Best Selling Books list is a ranking of titles selling well each week at a broad range of retail outlets. It reflects combined sales of titles in print and electronic format, if available. For example, if Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice sells copies in hardcover, paperback and e-book during a particular week, sales from each format are combined to determine its rank. The description of a title and the publisher name refers to the version selling the most copies in a particular week – hardcover (H), paperback (P) and e-book (E).

Tips & Tricks:

  • This list is not really looked at as a prestigious list. If you hit it, that’s great, but I have rarely seen a book on this best seller list that isn’t either on the one of the NYT or WSJ lists.
  • What makes this list so strange, is that you’ll see all kinds of things that don’t show up on the other lists; sudoku books, cookbooks, maps, things like that, though they have started to pull these out, and focus more on “real” books. Thus the curation.

The Amazon Bestseller List

Personally, I don’t think Amazon has a bestseller list. What they do is rank the sales of their books. Even on the page that they call their “best seller” page, it says “Our most popular products based on sales. Updated Hourly.”

So it’s not really a bestseller list, it’s just the top 100 sellers from their site.

Why does this matter?

Well, it is an essential question if you want to call your book a bestseller. The rules for calling yourself a bestseller from any of the above outlets are clear.

What are the rules for calling your book an Amazon bestseller? It’s an open question, and a lot of people abuse it.  

To show how ridiculous this “bestseller list” status is, one of the most brilliant marketers I know, Brent Underwood, took a picture of his foot, published it as a book, and hit #1 with it. He detailed everything here, called out the whole group of people who sell this, and it’s a great read. It pulls back the curtain on this nonsense status symbol.

Methodology: Pure sales, just on their platform. Updated hourly. They do seem to have an algorithm that ranks the books in a trailing sales fashion. For example, if you sell 10 books in one hour, and then none the next, you don’t just fall off their list that hour. You go down some spots, and keep falling, unless you start selling more books.

No one knows what Amazon’s algorithm is, and anyone who says they know for sure is probably lying (unless they work for Amazon). What most people are seeing is that the past 8 hours of sales are weighted evenly, thus making it a trailing algorithm.

Tips & Tricks:

  • If you want to rank on Amazon, focus all your marketing efforts on one day—your release date, for instance.
  • On an average launch day, it should take ~500 sales to make the Amazon Top 100.
  • It usually takes about 2000 sales in a day to hit the Amazon Top 10.
  • To get to #1 in a subcategory, it takes very few sales. Usually 10, depending on the category.
  • Don’t try to cheat this! Amazon is in a better situation than anyone (by tracking IP addresses and credit cards) to know if you are gaming the system. You won’t get on their list without legitimate sales, so focus your energy there instead of gaming the process. Buying 1000 books yourself won’t work. Amazon ABSOLUTELY watches this and will punish you.

The Cheat Code: Buying Your Way Onto The List

Services exist that will guarantee—for a large fee—that you get on the list. They are very expensive, and for the most part, if you read the fine print, their results are not actually guaranteed (despite what they claim in their ads).

I have never used one directly, but I know the three major companies well, because we’ve had clients who used them, and the results have been mixed. Sometimes they work well, other times, not.

I would estimate that a LARGE number of books that hit the bestseller list are bought. 50-100 per year, on average for the last decade at least.

And like I said before, buying a place on the list is a pure ego play. If spending $200,000 (yes, that’s what it costs, at least) to see your name on the NY Times Bestseller List is worth it to you, then go for it. Just be upfront with yourself about what you are doing and why.




Vampyre New Moon Novel Available for Pre-Order

“I am surprised you picked the path of the vigilante when you were turned.” Henrik replied. “You were such a violent person, use to hurting anyone who got in your way.”

Val laughed as she watched Henrik bite into the man and continued to drain him. “There’s a difference in the people in these streets that turn to violence. Some do so to just get what they want and some do it just to survive. I was hurt by the former and was turned into the latter. Now that I have the strength to hurt those like the ones that hurt me…I find myself compelled to do so. Besides, we have to eat…why not feed upon those who walk over others?”

Henrik finished with the mugger, tossing him over the side into a dumpster after he was done. He wiped his mouth and walked over to Val. “I am glad you have chosen this path. There are others who have chosen the other path that became lost to them. We might have the minds of men, but there are many of us that become like beasts, others like monsters.”

Walmart is taking its battle with Amazon to the streets of New York

The contest between Walmart and Amazon for control of America’s refrigerator and cupboard is escalating.

Walmart announced today (Oct. 3) that it had purchased Parcel, an delivery service that specializes in toting groceries and packages to the apartments of New Yorkers. Parcel will continue to deliver for its existing customers, but it will become the so-called last-mile courier for Walmart.com and Jet.com, the e-commerce company Walmart bought last year. Jet has been testing same-day delivery in New York, and Parcel will become the (literal) vehicle for that service’s expansion.

With the acquisition of Parcel, Walmart is poised to take on AmazonFresh, its same-day grocery service, and Amazon Prime Now, which delivers general merchandise, in the US’s biggest market.

Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods in June signaled its intention to become a player in the $626 billion US grocery market dominated by Walmart. Likewise, Walmart’s purchase of Parcel, along with its acquisitions of Jet and smaller e-commerce companies like Bonobos and ShoeBuy, shows it plans on taking on Amazon’s primacy in online shopping.

The move also means Walmart has finally found a home in New York, where it’s been blocked in its efforts to open stores for years. Its latest efforts in Brooklyn were stymied by grocery unions and local politicians, and mayor Bill De Blasio is an outspoken opponent. The Arkansas-based chain, which has nearly 5,000 US stores, has been similarly denied in Boston, Seattle and San Francisco.

So far, Walmart has expanded its e-commerce offerings into those traditional left-leaning cities without much of a fight. As its delivery services grow, it can probably count on getting one from Amazon.


Walmart is taking its battle with Amazon to the streets of New York

Mastering Virtual Reality: A Beginner’s Guide To Start Making Money With Virtual Reality

People have been waiting for VR to take off for years and they have been met with disappointment—until recently. A lot of evidence is now promising a bright future for VR but investors should be knowledgeable about several things before diving in; like what the risks are, how big the market is going to be, why this strategy should be played out in the long term and who the key players are.
Book Includes:
1.Virtual Reality Rises 
2.Virtual Reality via Real Estate
3.VR Goldmine 
4.Virtual Reality Apps
5.VR Business Opportunities
6.AR and VR in Education
7.VR Now
8.Diving Into VR
9.Medical VR Is Changing Healthcare
10. VR Golden Era
11. AR marketing Ideas
12. Making Money in Augmented Reality
13. Virtual Reality and Therapists
14. Diving Into VR
15. Before Investing In Virtual Reality
16. VR with Blockchain

Amazon’s Kindle Fire 10 Tablet Gets A Major Upgrade, And A Price Cut

Amazon has been trying to get its tablets in front of everyone it can, for a simple reason: The tablets are there to sell you stuff. And now Amazon is sweetening the deal with an enormous upgrade, and a price cut to go with it.

The Fire 10 is getting a complete overhaul on October 11th, with a quad-core processor, a battery that now lasts 10 hours, doubled storage with 32GB now standard, and a 1080p display. It also will come with “hands-free” Alexa functionality, and can serve as an add-on screen for your Echo, tracking timers and the like. Most notable, though, is all this is a lot cheaper; the previous Fire 10 was $230, and this one will start at $150. Yes, the price dropped by nearly a third. That more or less makes this the best tablet in that price range.

That said, there are trade-offs. The $150 model comes with “special offers” (that is, there are ads) that you can remove with a one-time $15 fee. It also features Amazon’s version of Android, which locks you out from Google’s app ecosystem in favor of Amazon’s, so if you were buying your music via Google Play or iTunes, you’ll be out of luck, unless you want to install a tedious workaround. That said, if you’re heavily invested in Amazon, or just want a large screen for your Amazon media, the Kindle Fire 10 just became a lot more viable.

(via The Verge)

Amazon targets abuse of Kindle e-book platform to increase reviews, royalties

Amazon.com is cracking down on people who manipulate its e-book self-publishing platform, a move that follows the e-commerce giant’s effort to better police its product reviews.

The Seattle company this week filed five complaints with a private arbitration service, seeking orders barring specific users of its Kindle e-book platform from trying to manipulate the system for financial gains.


Among Amazon’s contentions: Users posted fake reviews and offered for sale duplicate copies of books to boost a publisher’s rating, and some people sold “click farming” services to authors in a bid to artificially inflate readership totals and royalty payouts.


Amazon has created vast marketplaces for goods, primarily through its eponymous online store that hosts its own sales as well as listings from other companies. The company counts on its related reviews and product rankings to boost the legitimacy of its site in the eyes of consumers.

Worried about the corrosive impact of fake product reviews, Amazon since 2015 has been cracking down on reviews it believes are illegitimate.

Critics have for years have also complained that Kindle’s self-publishing apparatus was being abused.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesman said a “small minority” of Kindle self-publishers “engage in fraud to gain an unfair competitive advantage.”


Amazon allows anyone to self publish e-books through its Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

Authors can select a specific price to set their book for sale, or opt into programs that let users who pay a monthly fee read an unlimited selection of books, or, in the case of the Amazon Prime membership program, read books from a selection in a digital lending library.

Self-published authors who participate in the free reading programs are paid from a royalty fund that Amazon gathers monthly, with payouts varying based on the number of readers each book earns.



Apple and Amazon reportedly pursuing James Bond film rights

A new report from The Hollywood Reporter claims that Apple and Amazon are vying for the distribution rights for the next Bond films, right alongside current leading bidder Warner Bros. This represents a potentially huge change in the way Hollywood distributes movies, of course, and puts Amazon and Apple in the same competitive bucket as Sony, Universal and Fox, all of which have been talking to MGM following the expiration of its distribution deal with Sony after Spectre‘s 2015 release.

THR’s sources say that both Amazon and Apple are offering as much, if not more than the traditional studios for the Bond rights. It claims Apple’s new film and TV executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are leading the charge on the company’s behalf, and that the tech giant might be looking to strike an ever broader deal, including potential TV rights.


Apple was said to be investing $1 billion in original content initiatives next year, but the Bond franchise rights could be worth as much as $2 billion to $5 billion, per the report. It could set up the creation of a broader cinematic universe behind the character, similar to those being established by Disney for Marvel’s superheroes and the Star Wars saga.


This could still very easily result in no deal, or a different arrangement that sees film rights to go a traditional studio and TV or other content development licensing agreements struck with the tech companies int he running. Still, it’s an interesting window into what direction we might see streaming services take as they compete for creative real estate and audience eyeballs.


Apple and Amazon reportedly pursuing James Bond franchise rights

Microsoft and Amazon partner to integrate Alexa and Cortana digital assistants

Amazon and Microsoft are partnering to better integrate their Alexa and Cortana digital assistants. Alexa users will be able to access Cortana, and vice versa on a range of devices, although the integration will be a little awkward initially. As first reported by The New York Times, someone using an Alexa device will have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to get talk to Microsoft’s digital assistant, and someone using Cortana will have to say “Cortana, open Alexa” to talk to Amazon’s. It appears that both companies have simply created skills on each others platforms to enable the basic integration.

This cross-platform integration will also allow Alexa users to access some of the more unique aspects of Cortana. Microsoft has built its digital assistant more directly into its Office products, and now Alexa will get that functionality via Cortana — accessing work calendars and email, for example. While Microsoft is still tempting developers to create their own Cortana skills, existing Cortana users will be able to call up Alexa to get access to the ones that Cortana is missing. This might mean controlling smart home devices, or shopping on Amazon.


It’s a surprise move by both companies, and comes just as Microsoft is preparing to launch a Cortana speaker with Harman Kardon and push its digital assistant into cars, thermostats, and more devices. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google have all built rival digital assistants that have been seen as walled gardens blocked off from each other, and this partnership signals a move to make them work better together.



Amazon: We’re lowering Whole Foods prices on Monday

Amazon bought Whole Foods — now it’s going to lower prices.

The tech giant said Thursday that its takeover of Whole Foods will close on Monday. The first order of business will be to make some items more affordable, according to a release.


“Whole Foods Market will offer lower prices starting Monday on a selection of best-selling grocery staples across its stores, with more to come,” the company said in a statement.

That’s good news for Whole Foods critics, who have long bemoaned the grocery store’s high prices.

Amazon is also planning to bring some of its tech savvy into the Whole Foods business model — specifically by allowing Amazon Prime members to use their memberships at Whole Foods checkout and get special discounts.


“Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality — we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards,” Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consume, said in a statement.



Google and Walmart Partner With Eye on Amazon

Google and Walmart are testing the notion that an enemy’s enemy is a friend.

The two companies said Google would start offering Walmart products to people who shop on Google Express, the company’s online shopping mall. It’s the first time the world’s biggest retailer has made its products available online in the United States outside of its own website.

The partnership, announced on Wednesday, is a testament to the mutual threat facing both companies from Amazon.com. Amazon’s dominance in online shopping is challenging brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, while more people are starting web searches for products they might buy on Amazon instead of Google.

But working together does not ensure that they will be any more successful. For most consumers, Amazon remains the primary option for online shopping. No other retailer can match the size of Amazon’s inventory, the efficiency with which it moves shoppers from browsing to buying, or its many home delivery options.

The two companies said the partnership was less about how online shopping is done today, but where it is going in the future. They said that they foresaw Walmart customers reordering items they purchased in the past by speaking to Google Home, the company’s voice-controlled speakerand an answer to Amazon’s Echo. Walmart customers can also shop using the Google Assistant, the artificially intelligent software assistant found in smartphones running Google’s Android software.

Walmart customers can link their accounts to Google, allowing the technology giant to learn their past shopping behavior to better predict what they want in the future. Google said that because more than 20 percent of searches conducted on smartphones these days are done by voice, it expects voice-based shopping to be not far behind.

“We are trying to help customers shop in ways that they may have never imagined,” said Marc Lore, who is leading Walmart’s efforts to bolster its e-commerce business. He came to Walmart last year after the retailer bought the company he founded, Jet.com.

Google is a laggard in e-commerce. Since starting a shopping service in 2013, it has struggled to gather significant momentum. Initially, it offered free same-day delivery before scrapping it. It also tried delivery of groceries before abandoning that, too.

If Amazon is a department store with just about everything inside, then Google Express is a shopping mall populated by different retailers. There are more than 50 retailers on Google Express, including Target and Costco. Inside Google Express, a search for “toothpaste” will bring back options from about a dozen different retailers.

Google said it planned to offer free delivery — as long as shoppers met store purchase minimums — on products purchased on Google Express. Google had charged customers a $95 a year membership for free delivery. Amazon runs a similar program called Amazon Prime, offering free delivery for members who pay $99 a year.

The partnership with Google represents one of several steps that Walmart has taken over the past year to strengthen its online business.


Wal-Mart takes a cue from Amazon and applies for its own drone-deploying blimp patent

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is taking on Amazon in what appears to be a copycat move — by applying for a drone-deploying blimp patent.

You may recall about a year ago Amazon filed a patent for a flying warehouse that will send drones to your door. Now Walmart wants in on Amazon’s idea.

The patent application, first noted in Bloomberg, shows the Walmart blimp would float about 500 to 1,000 feet in the air and contain multiple launching bays from which both human controlled and autonomous drones could fly out to make deliveries.

A moveable warehouse blimp could help Walmart cut costs by eliminating the need for both land and “last-mile” shipping often handled by third-party logistics companies.

This floating warehouse move is just the latest in a series between the two companies as they duke it out for shoppers’ dollars. Amazon is fast becoming a dominant competitor to Walmart, offering fast shipping and cheaper products, all without you having to set foot outside your door. But Walmart is still the largest retailer in the world and has a physical advantage over the “Everything Store” with brick-and-mortar locations throughout the U.S.


Not one to miss out on opportunity, Amazon has started to build its own physical locations in an effort to pull in more shoppers. It already agreed to pay Whole Foods $13.7 billion to acquire all of its upscale retail locations and is further expanding local grocery delivery through AmazonFresh.

But Walmart isn’t one to step back from a challenge and likely has other plans to take on Amazon’s delivery business plans.

Walmart is already testing drive-through pickup using automated machinery. Possessing a flying warehouse stocked with essential items could help give the retailer a needed edge over Amazon by offering super-fast shipping on top of the physical locations, automated pickup and wide selection.


Wal-Mart takes a cue from Amazon and applies for its own drone-deploying blimp patent

Mastering Apps – A Beginners Guide to Start Making Money with Apps

Amazon bots are helping bring the USPS back from oblivion

The United States Postal Service is not exactly bouncing back from oblivion these days, but it’s worth noting that there’s been a slight bump in one area.

For the low-margin Shipping and Packages division, there was an 11 percent increase in revenue over last quarter. In general, these items — small packages that come to your mailbox but not snail mail letters — have kept the USPS from sinking like a ship.

For the savvy readers out there, you might already know there is one company that is helping them rebound. Hint: It’s named after an area in South America.

As Tim O’Reilly wisely notes in a recent post, Amazon is really pumping life into the shipping and receiving industry. Bots suggest products when we shop, they improve fulfillment, and they could one day guide drones to your doorstep. These are technically “automations” and not AI, but to a consumer, that doesn’t matter as long as that beef jerky and USB-C cable arrives faster, at a decent price, and in one piece.

O’Reilly also notes that this is saving jobs, not replacing them. I remember talking to an Amazon Now delivery person once a few months ago. In my area, I was able to order a printer cable and have it arrive in about an hour. He told me he was out of work for a few years. He was happy to be working, and he whistled as he walked out the door. Does he care that bots are making his job easier? Sure. Does he think bots will replace his job? Probably not. If anything, he’s happy they exist.

Next time you hear someone says bots are causing problems, tell them about that USPS increase since last quarter. You can blame automation for a lot of things, but at least in this case, it might be the bots that are saving the postal service.




One of the best things about Amazon‘s iconic ebook reader is its ever-growing library. At last count, the Kindle Store boasted more than 6 million books, magazines, and newspapers. But you needn’t keep them all to yourself — Amazon makes it easy to share books on a Kindle with friends, family, and your closest acquaintances. It’s like the digital equivalent of lending out a hardcover, minus the coffee stains and musty binding. If there’s a con to Kindle’s book-sharing tools, however, it’s that they can be a little tricky to get the hang of. To help clear up some of the confusion, we’ve put together a guide outlining how to share books on a Kindle with other people.

If you’ve got a family of avid readers, good news: Amazon makes it pretty easy to share books with every member of your family. Family Library lets up to two adults and four children share all or some of their Kindle books, apps, and audiobooks with one another. Members can read the same book at the same time without interrupting one another’s progress, too, regardless of whether they’re using a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Oasis, or an outdated Kindle Fire. Plus, they can borrow books for as long as they’d like.

Sharing titles can be a bit of a process, though. Before you can begin sharing Kindle books with family, you need to grant other family members access to your Family Library. Here’s how to do it:

  • Head to the Manage Your Content and Devices section of your Amazon account.
  • Under the Settings tab, in the Households and Family Library section, click the Invite an Adult/Invite a Child button.
  • Have the other adult/child enter their Amazon email and password (if they have one), or create a new account.
  • Click Yes to allow both your account and the other adult’s/child’s account to share payment methods.
  • Choose which books you’d like to share with the other adult/child, and have the other adult/child choose which books they’d like to share with you.
  • Click Finish.

Now that you’ve added adults and kids to your Family Library and shared your previous purchases, you’re ready to begin lending new Kindle books. Here’s how:

  • Head to the Manage Your Content and Devices section of your Amazon account.
  • Select the Show Family Library link from the Your Content tab.
  • Select the book(s) you’d like to share with a family member, and then click Add to Library.
  • Choose a family member, and then click OK.


Once you’ve received a book from another family member, it’s pretty easy to get it on the device of your choice. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Head to the Manage Your Content and Devices section of your Amazon account.
  • Choose the books you’d like to send to your device or app, and click Deliver.
  • Select where the books should be sent from the pop-up menu, and then click Deliver once more.



Amazon Is Making Instant Pickup for Online Orders a New Option

Amazon.com is rolling out pickup points in the United States where shoppers can retrieve items immediately after ordering them, shortening delivery times from hours to minutes, the company said on Tuesday.

The world’s largest online retailer has launched ‘Instant Pickup’ points around five college campuses, such as the University of California at Berkeley, it said. Amazon has plans to open more sites by the end of the year including one in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.


Shoppers on Amazon’s mobile app can select from several hundred fast-selling items at each site, from snacks and drinks to phone chargers. Amazon employees in a back room then load orders into lockers within two minutes, and customers receive bar codes to access them.


The news underscores Amazon’s broader push into brick-and-mortar retail. The e-commerce company, which said in June it would buy Whole Foods Market (WFM, -0.12%) for $13.7 billion, has come to realize that certain transactions like buying fresh produce are hard to shift online. Its Instant Pickup program targets another laggard: impulse buys.

“I want to buy a can of coke because I’m thirsty,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs. “There’s no chance I’m going to order that on Amazon.com and wait however long it’s going to take for that to ship to me.”

“I can provide that kind of service here,” he said of the new program.

Instant Pickup puts Amazon in competition with vending machine services. Yet the larger size of the Amazon sites means they are unlikely to pose a threat to those selling snack and drink vending machines to offices and schools. MacDonald said Amazon considered automating the Instant Pickup points but declined to say why the company had not pursued the idea.

Amazon’s ability to shorten delivery times has been a sore point for brick-and-mortar retailers, who have struggled to grow sales as their customers have turned to more convenient online options. Until Instant Pickup, Amazon shoppers could expect to have their orders within an hour at best via the company’s Prime Now program, or within 15 minutes for grocery orders via AmazonFresh Pickup. Amazon has made two-day shipping standard in the United States.

Instant Pickup prices may be cheaper than those on Amazon.com, MacDonald said. He declined to detail how the items are priced, however.

Other locations in the program now open include Los Angeles, Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio and College Park, Maryland.



Amazon and Cesar Millan launch audiobooks for dogs

I am going to get through this without any literary dog puns. 

No, you’re not even going to bait me into suggesting that the new audiobooks for dogs series — launched on Monday by Amazon subsidiary Audible.com and famed Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan — would never allow “The Great Catsby” onto its list. Nor, indeed, “The Cat of Monte Cristo.”

Instead, I’ll simple tell you that Millan believes classic works read by soothing voices will create calm for your dog while he or she is home alone. 


He insists that research proves that 76 percent of dogs who listened to great literature while their owner was absent felt calmer and behaved in a more relaxed manner.

I cannot confirm that the other 24 percent were forced to listen to “The Diversity Myth” by David O. Sacks and Peter Thiel and Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg’s “How Google Works.”

Among the titles going to the dogs in the Audible series are “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein, “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah and, of course, Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

Audible insists that dogs prefer to listen to voices of the same gender and type as their “primary” owner, which might cause one or two tiffs in a loving two-person household. 

No, darling. I’m Roughshod’s primary owner. You’re just a subsidiary. Surely you see that Roughshod loves me more than you, don’t you?

The company also says that the preferred method of dissemination is an in-home listening device. Oh, this isn’t some sneaky way of selling an Amazon Echo, is it? I asked Audible whether the Echo is the best way to listen to these books. 

“Yes. Or any smart speaker,” replied a spokeswoman diplomatically.

How, though, were the books chosen? 

“We looked for consistent and soothing narrations resulting in calm, happy dogs. And we looked for titles that we knew dog owners would enjoy as well,” Audible’s chief content officer Andy Gaies told me.

An alternative, of course, is just to record yourself reading any book you like — “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” for example. Or “Lewis and Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President.”

Or would that be too much effort? After all, you might be away for 10 or 12 hours a day if you work in tech, so to have to record hours of text when you get home or at weekends might be laborious. 

Better, perhaps, if you just teach your dog to code. I hear that’s a relaxing pursuit too.


Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.



Amazon to counter-program ‘Confederate’ with reparations-themed ‘Black America’

Amazon is hoping that viewers who registered their disapproval of HBO’s upcoming slavery drama Confederate will have a positive reaction to their own alternate-history series, Black America.

As in Confederate, from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Black America takes place in a universe where the South has seceded from the Union. But where Confederate imagines slavery as a modern-day institution, the Amazon offering focuses on freed slaves who form their own country, New Colonia, out of the states of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, given to them as reparations for the country’s original sin.


New Colonia has been at peace with the United States for twenty years following 150 years of fighting. But their newfound accord is endangered by an economic role reversal: the new country has emerged as a new global power player as America slides into decline.

“It was something that was personally intriguing for me as a black American,” William Packer (Straight Outta Compton), who is partnering with Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder, told Deadline in a story published Tuesday. “You would be hard pressed to find many black Americans who have not thought about the concept of reparation, what would happen if reparations were actually given.”


He added that the Black America team is working with a team of historians, explaining, “Even though the story is set in contemporary society, not post-slavery, it relies on us being factually correct in telling the story of how we got to a contemporary society where you’ve got a sovereign country that is run by black Americans.” 

Amazon announced the project earlier this year with little detail or fanfare. Packer says the show is now in “active development” but did not mention how far along it is, when it will premiere or whether anyone has been cast.

It now appears to be positioning Black America as counter programming. It marks the streaming platform’s second original alternate-history series after The Man in the High Castle. That show imagines an America occupied by the Nazis and Japanese after the Axis powers won World War II.

Packer sidestepped direct questions about Confederate; however, he noted, “Slavery is far too real and far too painful, and we still see the manifestations of it today as a country for me to ever view that as a form of entertainment.”



Mastering Drones by Adidas Wilson on Amazon and ITunes

Amazon has a secret health care team called 1492 focused on medical records, virtual doc visits

Amazon has started a secret skunkworks lab dedicated to opportunities in health care, including new areas such as electronic medical records and telemedicine. Amazon has dubbed this stealth team 1492, which appears to be a reference to the year Columbus first landed in the Americas.

The stealth team, which is headquartered in Seattle, is focused on both hardware and software projects, according to two people familiar. Amazon has become increasingly interested in exploring new business in healthcare. For example, Amazon has another unit exploring selling pharmaceuticals, CNBC reported in May.


The new team is currently looking at opportunities that involve pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medical record systems. If successful, Amazon could make that information available to consumers and their doctors. It is also hoping to build a platform for telemedicine, which in turn could make it easier for people to have virtual consultations with doctors, one of the people said.


The group is also exploring health applications for existing Amazon hardware, including Echo and Dash Wand. Hospitals and doctor’s offices have already dabbled in developing skills for Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, which presents a big opportunity for the e-commerce company.


It’s not clear whether Amazon is building any new health devices, but sources didn’t rule it out.

The company currently has a slew of roles available for its “stealth” operation, which are searchable on the jobs site under the keyword “a1.492.” Some job posts describe the position as “The Amazon Grand Challenge a.k.a. ‘Special Projects’ team.” The unit is currently hiring for a UX Design Manager for its “new vertical,” as well as a machine learning director with experience in healthcare IT and analytics and a knowledge of electronic medical records.


Some members of the team list their affiliation with a1.492 on LinkedIn. Those involved include two machine learning experts; a UX designer; and two strategic initiative leads that are running projects inside the group, Kristen Helton and Cameron Charles.


Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


1492 isn’t the only team inside Amazon that is working in health and life sciences.


Its cloud operation, Amazon Web Services, has also hired a slew of health experts to beat out Microsoft and Google for contracts with large hospitals and pharmaceutical vendors. The company has also invested in a health startup called Grail as a very special kind of future customer for its cloud business.


Its Amazon business team is also grabbing opportunities in the $3 trillion sector. It has been selling medical supplies for several years, which poses a big threat to the U.S. distribution business, and is looking to build out a pharmacy business.


The company is attempting to better coordinate these efforts through a series of meetings with senior leaders across these groups that kicked off this year, according to one of the people.


The market opportunity is enormous: Former White House CTO Aneesh Chopra, who has been highly involved in efforts to digitize health operations but had no prior knowledge of the Amazon effort, told CNBC “anyone who aspires to help consumers navigate our health system and is digitally capable should find the market conditions ripe for entry.”


Apple’s health unit is also working with partners in the industry to aggregate medical information, CNBC previously reported. Google and Microsoft have stumbled in similar efforts, known as Google Health and HealthVault.



33 Strategies of Kama Sutra by Adidas Wilson

Look out, YouTube and Facebook: Amazon’s coming for video publishers

YouTube and Facebook get a bulk of the attention from digital publishers looking to build and scale video businesses. Meanwhile, for the past year, Amazon has built a platform that not only offers publishers another place to distribute videos but also the opportunity to make money from day one.

Last year, Amazon opened up its Prime streaming platform to video publishers and creators of all sizes, allowing them to distribute individual videos, themed video collections, entire seasons of shows and even their subscription channels. Called Amazon Video Direct, the program gives participating publishers access to the estimated 79 million people who pay for Prime in the U.S. alone.

One publisher in the Amazon Video Direct program said it earned mid-five figures on Amazon during its first month on the program last year — nearly four times the amount it made from YouTube ad sales during the same month. “That was an eye-opener, and we’ve been putting up more titles [on Amazon] since then,” said this publishing exec.

Amazon itself said the Video Direct program paid out “tens of millions of dollars” in royalties in its first year, with “billions of minutes” streamed.

“We are encouraged by the positive response and adoption from content creators, as well as the high level of engagement by Amazon Video customers,” said Eric Orme, head of Amazon Video Direct.

Video publishers have a number of ways to make money from the Amazon Video Direct program. If they choose to distribute individual videos and shows within the Amazon Prime subscription video service, they get paid 15 cents per hour streamed in the U.S. and 6 cents per hour streamed in the U.K., Germany and Japan. Publishers also have the option to sell individual movies, shows and video packages to customers, retaining 50 percent of all revenue made from purchases or rentals. There’s also an ad-supported, free portal, through which Amazon pays out 55 cents to every dollar generated from pre-roll ads. Finally, they can sell add-on subscriptions.

Very little revenue is coming in from the ad-supported side at the moment, according to multiple sources. However, the dollars generated from distributing inside the Prime subscription service, while fluctuating month to month, are proving to be noticeable. It’s enough money that HowStuffWorks started to produce long-form shows last year that can be distributed on Amazon.

Comedy studio Jash, meanwhile, is seeing enough revenue from Amazon that it plans to publish new episodes of “Norm Macdonald Live,” its comedy talk show with the famous comedian, on Amazon the day they premiere.



Amazon has launched a shoppable social network called Spark — here’s how it works

Amazon would really like you to buy more stuff, ideally through Amazon.

The company has launched Amazon Spark, an Instagram-style shoppable feed that appears inside the Amazon app to showcase products. We first saw Spark on TechCrunch.

The experience is similar to scrolling through your Instagram feed, except in this case everything is set up so you can click on an image and buy the items in it.

Business Insider tried Amazon Spark on the iOS version of the Amazon app. It feels a bit beta for now — you have to be in the US, and Spark shows up only for Prime members. And some items don’t seem to be available to buy as they appear in Spark; we tried to buy a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses that we saw on Spark, and Amazon showed us a slightly different version.

Here’s how Spark works:

View As: One Page Slides


To open Spark from the Amazon app, click the menu from the home screen, scroll down to “Programs and Features,” and you should find Spark listed.

To open Spark from the Amazon app, click the menu from the home screen, scroll down to "Programs and Features," and you should find Spark listed.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

If you’re in the UK and want to use Amazon Spark, you’ll need to change your country settings to the US.

If you're in the UK and want to use Amazon Spark, you'll need to change your country settings to the US.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Spark will show you images based on your interests, and it will ask you to pick five or more from categories like men’s fashion and home decor.

Spark will show you images based on your interests, and it will ask you to pick five or more from categories like men's fashion and home decor.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Once you’re in Spark, you can scroll through an Instagram-like feed, all inside the Amazon app.

Once you're in Spark, you can scroll through an Instagram-like feed, all inside the Amazon app.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Spark highlights which items in the image are available to buy on Amazon — in this case, it’s the rug, the mistletoe, and the sunglasses. We tried buying the sunglasses …

Spark highlights which items in the image are available to buy on Amazon — in this case, it's the rug, the mistletoe, and the sunglasses. We tried buying the sunglasses ...

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

… and it’s not perfect. The Ray-Ban sunglasses shown on Spark look slightly different and cooler than what’s available on Amazon.

... and it's not perfect. The Ray-Ban sunglasses shown on Spark look slightly different and cooler than what's available on Amazon.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

And Amazon shows you items in Spark that aren’t available to buy. Here is a glossy product shot of Amazon’s new meal kits, which launched this week …

And Amazon shows you items in Spark that aren't available to buy. Here is a glossy product shot of Amazon's new meal kits, which launched this week ...

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

… but if you want to buy them, they’re sold out.

... but if you want to buy them, they're sold out.

Shona Ghosh/Amazon

Anyone who uses Spark right now is probably a big Amazon fan. The company has acknowledged that by featuring a nod to a recent meme about its CEO, Jeff Bezos.



10 Steps To Self-Publishing Your Book

So you’ve decided you have a great idea for a book, but you’re not sure where to start. Perhaps you’re considering self-publishing, and want to have a thorough understanding of each part of the process. Ten simple steps can ensure you make the right decisions when it comes to writing, editing, designing, publishing, and promoting your book!

1. Do Your Research

Even before completing a rough draft of your manuscript, research and understand the market for your book. First, take a close look at your idea. What genre is your book, fiction or non-fiction? Gain an understanding of the market for your genre, and for your subgenre (mystery, self-help, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) Look into current trends in these subgenres, so you can avoid flooding a saturated market, trying instead to fill a need that is underserved yet in demand. Figure out what existing books are similar to yours, and what makes your book different.

2. Complete a Rough Draft

Next, you will need to complete a rough draft or your manuscript, a process that can take months or even years for some authors. This calls for hard work and discipline; this part of the process weeds out many would-be authors. Even if it’s only a few hours a week, try to create a writing schedule and stick to it.

This is also a good opportunity to seek out advice from experienced readers. Ask questions, and make sure you’re living up to your own goals for your book. You may find advice online about how to write for a particular genre. Try not to get hung up on details, though – finish your manuscript, even if it’s not perfect. It will be much easier to figure out what to fix from here.

3. Find an Editor

Find an experienced, professional copy and content editor with whom you have good working chemistry. This is essential to making sure you receive useful criticism you can take into account. A good editor will ensure your book is free of grammatical errors and plot holes, and in the case of non-fiction, that your content is factual. Remember, though – even the best editor can’t make fundamentally poor writing good. This is your job as an author.

4. Complete a Final Draft

This is your chance to aim for perfection. Take into account your feedback from readers, fact checkers, content reviewers, and your editor, to create the best possible final draft from your rough manuscript. This may take several passes of reviews and corrections.

5. Assemble a Team

Don’t expect yourself to do everything when it comes to publishing your book. We don’t expect cooks to also be farmers, servers, and managers, and the same principle applies here. No single person can be expected to excel at specialized fields like editing, design and layout, illustrations, rights management for images and text, and marketing, in addition to being an author. You will want to find experienced professionals in each of these areas as you move toward publishing your book.

6. Gather Professional Reviews

Strong reviews are a key to selling your book. They will appear on your back cover, and on retailer’s websites. Find relevant reviewers through organizations that match the genre of your book, and through your own professional and personal connections.

Remember, asking someone to review your book benefits them too. It provides an opportunity for publicity, and to establish themselves as an authority on the genre.

7. Design a Compelling Cover

This goes a long way towards getting readers to pick up your book. Find a professional designer with experience. This how your book will be introduced to potential readers, so it’s best not to skimp on the quality here. On average, potential readers will give your book seven seconds to capture their attention. A dynamic cover that communicates what kind of content your book offers is the best way to win over these readers quickly.

8. Going to Retail

This means actually publishing a finalized product for customers to buy. This where you will decide beween using a traditional publisher and self-publishing your book. Where major publishers were once the only option, 35 percent of authors today choose to self-publish. While this means more control, and often better royalties, it is easy to overlook aspect such as design and distribution. A quality self-publishing service can make sure these aspects get the attention they need and deserve.

Choose the right files for the output – high resolution print files, or properly formatted ePub for electronic publishing. Consider publishing in audiobook format.

9. Promotion, Marketing and Distribution

Once your book is on the market, you will need to make sure it sells. When it comes to distribution, you want your book available from as many retailers as possible. Many booksellers will not sell a book unless it can be ordered from a major distributor. Today this includes players such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, in addition to traditional retailers.

With your book in the distribution network, it is still up to you to market and promote your book. Consider hiring a public relations firm to promote you as an author, and not just your book. Create a compelling “book blurb” – a product description for retailer’s product pages. Look into print advertising for your target market. Consider hiring an online marketing specialist.

10. Don’t Give Up!

Publishing a book the right way can be a long and in-depth process. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t give up!

Just like any long and multifaceted process, the key is to take it one step at a time. Don’t be afraid to ask others, both professionals and friends and family, for help with certain steps. And when you run into trouble, try to remember why you wanted to publish your book in the first place!



Amazon Is Testing a Geek Squad-Like Service for Smart Home Tech

Amazon.com (AMZN, +0.02%) is trying out yet a new strategy that should strike fear into the hearts of its brick-and-mortar rivals.

The online store has been assembling an army of experts to offer free consultations for its Alexa product as well as product installations for a fee inside customer homes, Recode reported on Monday, citing multiple sources as well as Amazon job postings. Though Amazon did not immediately respond to a request from Fortune for comment, its website is promoting the service, currently available in seven cities.


The move is a potential threat to Best Buy’s (BBY, +0.94%) comeback. That retailer’s well established “Geek Squad” installation and repair service has long been a key weapon in pushing Amazon back by letting it offer services others didn’t and giving shoppers a reason to come to stores. Best Buy’s shares fell 5.5% on the news.

Amazon’s service offers to help customers set up a “smart home,” a growing category of often complex products and systems where competition is getting more intense.

Best Buy has placed a big bet on the business: last month it said if was expanding space at 700 of its stores to better showcase Amazon’s Echo as well as Google Home and how they interact with other smart home technology it sells such as Philips Hue smart light bulbs, and Nest thermostats. That came only a few weeks after Best Buy announced a major new partnership with Vivint, a company that installs home monitoring services and solar panels.

The new Amazon in-home services are currently available in seven areas on the West coast: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and Orange County, Calif ., but as Recode points out, a larger expansion appears to be coming, judging by Amazon’s job postings.



Amazon wins India’s approval to invest in domestic food retail

Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc has secured approval to stock and sell food and groceries in India, potentially expanding its business in the fast-growing economy where it is in a pitched battle with home-grown rival Flipkart.

Amazon confirmed winning government approval for its plan to sell food products, but it declined to provide further details.

Separately, a source familiar with the matter said Amazon planned to invest $500 million in the food segment, over and above the $5 billion it had already committed to investing in India.

Cheaper smartphones, increasing internet penetration and steep discounts have led to a surge in domestic online shopping for everything from gadgets to clothes and food items in India.

Still, mom-and-pop stores account for the biggest share of grocery sales, offering organized players huge growth potential.

Currently Amazon offers food products in India via Amazon Pantry, where retailers including joint venture Cloudtail sell various products. It also offers same-day grocery delivery on its Amazon Now app through a tie-up with Indian retailers Big Bazaar, Star Bazaar and Hypercity.

Amazon did not comment on whether its new investments would affect any of its existing tie-ups, or its Cloudtail joint venture.

Venture-funded Flipkart, whose backers include Tiger Global, Tencent Holdings and Microsoft, also plans to move into the groceries space, company executives have said.

Amazon last month announced plans to buy upscale U.S. grocer Whole Foods Market Inc for $13.7 billion.



Amazon puts an additional $260M into its Indian business

Amazon has topped up its investment in its India business with another $260 million. The funding was disclosed in regulatory documents filed last month and first reported by Indian financial publication Mint.

The infusion of capital comes in time to prepare Amazon India (officially named Amazon Seller Services Pvt Ltd) for the holiday shopping season, which centers around the Dussehra and Diwali festivals in the fall. Amazon India’s chief rival for the attention of online shoppers will be Flipkart, which raised $1.5 billion at a valuation of $11.6 billion three months ago from a noteworthy roster of investors including Amazon rival eBay, Microsoft, and Tencent. Another important competitor is Alibaba-backed Paytm.

Amazon pumped $2 billion into its Indian marketplace in summer 2014 and launched Amazon Prime there last year, with annual memberships costing 999 rupees (about $15, though discounts are available for new members). Amazon India will run its first Prime Day on July 10, to coincide with the online shopping/promotional event’s timing in the U.S. and other markets.

The e-commerce behemoth is likely to continue pumping money into its India unit. CEO Jeff Bezos promised to invest $5 billion into India during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. last year, up from the $2 billion he had previously pledged. Since that amount is meant to develop India’s tech and startup industries, however, it’s unclear exactly how much will be put specifically into Amazon India.


China and the U.S. are still the world’s largest e-commerce markets, but India is the fastest-growing one, with online retail sales expected to reach $64 billion by 2021, at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 31.2 percent.

But that doesn’t mean its smooth sailing for India’s biggest e-commerce players as they struggle with high operating costs. Amazon used to count Snapdeal among its main rivals, but Snapdeal has been trying to cut costs and in January was reportedly in talks to raise a downround from SoftBank. Despite its new funding, Flipkart has also faced its own troubles, including valuation markdowns from several mutual funds.


Amazon puts an additional $260M into its Indian business

Amazon’s unlimited subscription service for avid readers is $40 cheaper this week

Amazon is having a Prime Day sale on Kindle Unlimited, it’s all-you-can-read digital book service.

You don’t need a Kindle to use Kindle Unlimited — it’s not about the device, it’s all about the books. 

If you’ve never heard of Kindle Unlimited before, it has three major components: digital books, audiobooks, and a technology called whispersync. 

The first two are pretty self explanatory. Kindle Unlimited subscribers will have access to thousands of digital books and audiobooks through the Kindle Store. Think of it as having a Spotify subscription, but for books. The Audiobooks come courtesy of Audible.com, who Amazon acquired a few years ago.

This is important to note because the quality of Audible’s audiobooks is phenomenal. I’ve been an on-again, off-again subscriber for years and have yet to find a bad-sounding book.

Not all books sold through the Kindle store are accessible for free with Kindle Unlimited, but hundreds of thousands are. The same is true for audiobooks; only Kindle Unlimited-eligible books with an audible version come free with your subscription. 

Whispersync is the technology that makes this subscription really cool. Because the free apps for Kindle and Audible are available on multiple platforms, you’re likely to pick up and leave off books in different places.

You might read a book through the Kindle app before going to bed, and pick up where you left off on your phone during your commute. Or, you might listen to the audible version of a book during your commute, and look to keep reading the Kindle version after dinner. 

What whispersync does is keep track of where you leave off, so you can pick up exactly at that place later on. It doesn’t matter how you consume the book, or through what device. It’d be a hassle to keep track of that on your own, so this technology is a major value add for subscribers.

Of course, it’s also available for any Kindle book and Audible audiobook, so if you already own multiple copies of the same book in multiple formats, you can take advantage of whispersync now. 

If you know someone who’s always searching for something to read, I can’t think of a better gift to give them. They’ll have more options of what to read than ever before and won’t be penalized for reading whenever and however fits their lifestyle.


Nike is finally going to start selling on Amazon for one simple reason

Even the world’s largest sportswear maker can’t deny the power of the world’s largest eCommerce platform.

Nike will begin selling some products on Amazon next month, but the deal isn’t necessarily about growing volume. Instead, Nike’s goal is to work more closely with Amazon to crack down on third-party sellers, according to The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Stevens and Sara Germano.

Nike is already the number 1 clothing brand on Amazon even though it does not sell directly on the website, according to Morgan Stanley research. Nike products are instead sold by unauthorized third party re-sellers, which Amazon still profits from by taking fees for facilitating the sale. Cottage industries have sprung up, with entrepreneurs buying up large stocks of Nike product to unload on the website.

“That’s how I make my money. Amazon is the No. 1 marketplace. Nike is the No. 1 brand,” said one such Amazon seller told The Journal. “If they’re not in bed together, that’s my opportunity.”

As part of the deal between Amazon and Nike, Amazon will monitor its website and no longer allow third parties to sell Nike merchandise, the Journal reports. According to the WSJ, the initial amount of product it will actually offer on Amazon is small.


Still, cutting off the flow of reselling on Amazon will likely lead would-be Nike buyers to Nike’s own website or retailers like Foot Locker if they can’t find what they’re looking for on Amazon. This helps Nike better control its product and how it appears on Amazon — a marketplace with large exposure to potential customers and usually the first place customers search when looking to shop.

This fits with Nike’s broader plan to tighten its grip on brand and image as it focuses more on direct-to-consumer and moves away from wholesale.



Amazon’s New Japanese Series ‘FACE’ to Premiere Next Month

TOKYO – Amazon Prime’s new Japanese original series “FACE: Cyber Crime Special Investigation Unit” is set to premiere on the streaming service July 11.

Starring Ayame Goriki as a cyber-crime special agent, the series will be more oriented toward what Amazon describes as a “life or death struggle against criminal hackers” than geeks glued to computer screens. Amazon produced the show in partnership with Oscar Promotion, a leading Japanese talent agency, for which Goriki is a top star.


A new episode of the show will be released weekly.

Amazon has announced more than 20 new titles for its Amazon Prime service in Japan, including “Tokyo Vampire Hotel,” a nine-episode series by international cult director Sion Sono; “The Bachelor Japan”; and new iterations of the long-running Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and Crayon Shin-chan franchises.


Amazon’s New Japanese Series ‘FACE’ to Premiere Next Month

Amazon Unveils New Kindle Highlight and Note System

Amazon has just unveiled a new system that allows you to easy view all of the notes and highlights that you have made in a Kindle e-book. It is accessible via the web and harvests all of the content you have saved on your e-reader, Fire tablet or your favorite Kindle app. It is also optimized for mobile devices, so it displays properly on any Android or Apple smartphone.


Amazon sent an email to users this afternoon and it stated “We have good news. Customers have been asking for more ways to access their Kindle notes and highlights—especially on their phones. We’ve created a new home for all your notes and highlights that’s easy to access from your phone, tablet, or PC. Now you can easily refer to your notes and highlights wherever you are. Visit the new home for Your Notes and Highlights at read.amazon.com/notebook.”



Amazon’s vision for the future: delivery drone beehives in every city

Amazon’s drone delivery program stopped being a joke a while ago, but the company still has to overcome serious challenges to make the technology actually work. One of these is getting drones near enough to large populations so they’re more efficient than regular road delivery. Amazon has an idea for that though: Huge. Drone. Beehives.


In a patent application published yesterday, Amazon described how “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” could help put drones where they’re needed. The application notes that due to “their large footprint,” current warehouses are located “on the outskirts of cities where space is available.” But multi-story drone centers could be built vertically, rather than horizontally, allowing them to be placed within “downtown districts and/or other densely populated urban areas.” And, of course, making them high-rises would let the drones fly in and out without getting dangerously close to pedestrians at street level.

Amazon’s application includes sketches of a number of differently shaped buildings and interior views, showing how human employees would load-up the drones with packages:

But flying large numbers of drones in cities invites other problems too. Who’s going to want to live near a drone delivery tower if it makes so much noise? And what if drones start falling out the sky, making impromptu, and possibly fatal, deliveries? Amazon is obviously thinking hard about these problems, and in the same round of patent applications as the delivery beehive, suggests a few solutions.


For drone noise, the company is suggesting custom rotor designs that would chop through the air more quietly. These include adding “trailing edge fringes,” “leading edge serrations,” “sound dampening treatments,” and “blade indentations for sound control” to rotors, but all focus on the same principle: breaking up the airflow around propellers to try and alter or reduce the sound they make.

The image below shows how “trailing edge fringes” — the tiny plant-like fronds — might be added to the rotor blade. These might make drones quieter, but let’s face it: they’ll also look terrifying.

And the last significant item on Amazon’s patent application list? Drones with multiple sets of rotors and motors, so that if one set fails, the other can take over. It’s a simple idea, but an essential one.


Of course, all these are just applications. It doesn’t mean Amazon is necessarily going to build these things, or that drone deliveries will ever become widespread. What it does show, is that the company is continuing to think hard about the future of deliveries. And who knows? These things always seem silly, right up until the point they’re real.



Alibaba Would Accept Bitcoin Before Amazon, Google

Alibaba should be the next global giant to accept Bitcoin according to 4,500 participants in a survey this week.

52 percent of respondents to the survey by Digital Currency Group creator Barry Silbert believe the Chinese marketplace is next in line to embrace the virtual currency.

Other options included Amazon (31 percent) and Google (12 percent), while only five percent of those answering on Twitter believed Facebook would be the first of the group to get serious about Bitcoin.

A total of 4,571 votes were cast, with Silbert confirming the results on Thursday. 

Recent noises from the Alibaba ecosystem may well have informed the outcome, with a Japanese move set to make Bitcoin payments an indirect option for the site in the future.

Amazon, for its part, has also been increasingly active in the Blockchain space, working with Silbert’s Digital Currency Group on a startup initiative.

So far, however, it has stopped short of announcing any direct relationship with Bitcoin.

Meanwhile, a couple of months after announcing it would accept Bitcoin across its international platform, Czech retail giant Alza revealed this week customers could even use the virtual currency to buy a Tesla electric car.



Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.4 Billion

Amazon agreed to buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, in a deal that will instantly transform the company that pioneered online shopping into a merchant with physical outposts in hundreds of neighborhoods across the country.

The acquisition, announced Friday, is a reflection of both the sheer magnitude of the grocery business — about $800 billion in annual spending in the United States — and a desire to turn Amazon into a more frequent shopping habit by becoming a bigger player in food and beverages. After almost a decade selling groceries online, Amazon has failed to make a major dent on its own as consumers have shown a stubborn urge to buy items like fruits, vegetables and meat in person.

Buying Whole Foods also represents a major escalation in the company’s long-running battle with Walmart, the largest grocery retailer in the United States, which has been struggling to play catch-up in internet shopping. On Friday, Walmart announced a $310 million deal to acquire the internet apparel retailer Bonobos and last year it agreed to pay $3.3 billion for Jet.com and put Jet’s chief executive, Marc Lore, in charge of Walmart’s overall e-commerce business.

“Make no mistake, Walmart under no circumstances can lose the grocery wars to Amazon,” said Brittain Ladd, a strategy and supply chain consultant who formerly worked with Amazon on its grocery business. “If Walmart loses the grocery battle to Amazon, they have no chance of ever dethroning Amazon as the largest e-commerce player in the world.”The idea of Amazon, a company founded 23 years ago on the premise of shopping from the comfort of a computer screen, moving forcefully into the crowded field of brick-and-mortar retail, with its limitations on selection and lack of customer reviews, once seemed ludicrous. But in the past several years, the company has dabbled with stores, opening or planning more than a dozen bookstores around the country.


Amazon launches ‘My Mix,’ a personalized shop filled with your favorite things

Amazon has quietly launched a new feature offering shoppers personalized suggestions of products they might like to buy. Called “My Mix,” the addition is tied to Amazon’s “Interesting Finds” — the curated gift shop introduced last year that provides a Pinterest-like experience for discovering products across Amazon’s vast website.

“Interesting Finds,” which evolved out of an earlier product called “Amazon Stream,” is the latest in Amazon’s efforts to become a place where shoppers browse and get inspired, instead of a place where you search for products you know you already need or want.

Similar to startups like the shopping service Canopy, this section of Amazon’s website has evolved in recent months from a simple page with just a few categories (Women, Men and Fun) to one that now organizes products into more than two dozen different sections.

It also is no longer tucked away under hidden menus, but prominently featured at the top of Amazon.com via a big banner ad.

On the site, you browse through products within its category pages, which can be as broad as “Women,” as popular as “Bikes,” or as niche as “Mid-Century.” There also are collections on each page that are like mini-shops with a grouping of themed items — like “Travel in Style,” “Fun with Photos” or “Green Thumb,” for example.

You can favorite both the items and the shops, then return to them later under the “My Hearts” section. Or you can purchase items immediately by clicking through to the product detail page and checking out.



Amazon is going after Walmart with a 45-percent discount on Prime for lower-income shoppers

Amazon already owns the high-income shopper segment in the U.S. Now it’s making a bid to court those who have less income at their disposal.


On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it is offering a 45 percent discount on Prime memberships — $5.99 a month instead of $10.99 month — to U.S. residents receiving government assistance.

Shoppers with an Electronic Benefits Transfer card — used for benefits like the Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program — are eligible to sign up four years in a row for this promotion.

The move comes a little over a year after Amazon first introduced the $10.99 monthly payment option for Prime, which was previously only available for an annual fee of $99.


The monthly option comes with the same perks like free two-day shipping on tens of millions of items and access to to a large selection of online movies and TV shows for no extra charge.

 Mark Oldenburg

The monthly payment option was seen as a way to attract lower-income customers — the type of shopper who might otherwise prefer, say, Walmart — who could not cough up $99 at one time. Since then, Prime membership growth has been the strongest among households making less than $50,000 annually, a R.W. Baird study found.

The offer follows an announcement Amazon made earlier this year that it would start accepting food stamps for its grocery items beginning this summer. Amazon’s grocery service costs an additional monthly fee on top of the Prime membership. It’s unclear if lower-income customers taking advantage of Amazon’s new Prime offer would also get a discount on the grocery delivery fee.



Amazon Prime is the most crucial piece of the Amazon shopping machine, since those customers spend more and buy more frequently than non-Prime members do. CEO Jeff Bezos has said he wants to add so much value to Prime that it becomes irresponsible to not use it.

Amazon’s discount offering is just the latest salvo in a renewed rivalry between Walmart and Amazon since Walmart last year acquired Jet.com, started by former Amazon employee Marc Lore.

The two sides are currently engaged in a price war in packaged goods that is terrifying some of America’s biggest grocery brands. Amazon has also recently taken Walmart’s lead more often than in recent years. Amazon followed Walmart’s 500-store expansion of a grocery pick-up model with two Amazon locations of its own and has also lowered its free-shipping threshold to $25 in what looks like a way to combat Walmart’s free, speedy delivery offering.



Amazon to pay out $70 million in refunds over unauthorized in-app purchases

Amazon is offering customers refunds for unauthorized charges their children have incurred playing games from the company’s Appstore.

The move comes nearly three years after the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon in federal court over in-game charges that shocked unsuspecting parents.

“Amazon’s in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents’ accounts without permission,” the FTC’s then-Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said when the lawsuit was filed.

A judge concurred and the FTC says the company has agreed to refund up to $70 million in unintended charges.

Amazon spokesman Jonathan Richardson said in a statement to NPR: “We have contacted all eligible customers who have not already received a refund for unauthorized charges to help ensure their refunds are confirmed quickly.”

If you believe your child made an in-app purchase without your permission between November 2011 and May 2016, you may be eligible for a refund. The FTC says you can visit this Amazon webpage or log into your Amazon account and look in the Message Center under “Important Messages.” Or you can call Amazon at 866-216-1072. Refund requests are due by May 28, 2018.

Julie Comeaux is one of many parents who had no idea her daughter was continually spending money inside a game on her new Amazon Kindle. Comeaux described on Morning Edition last month how she typed in her password once to approve a $5 in-app purchase—then left the Kindle with her daughter.

“When we checked the account and we saw hundreds of charges from Amazon, it totaled near $10,000,” Comeaux said.

“She cried. I had to calm her down,” Comeaux recalled. “She was very upset, didn’t know she was spending real money.”

According to the FTC complaint, games often blur the lines between what kids can buy with virtual currency and what they’re buying with actual money. It cited the app Ice Age Village, in which players can use virtual coins and acorns to buy items — and can also pay real money to buy more of the virtual currencies, on a screen that looks very similar.

But Amazon’s Richardson said Wednesday, “Since the launch of the Appstore in 2011, Amazon has helped parents prevent purchases made without their permission by offering access to parental controls, clear notice of in-app purchasing, real-time notification for every in-app purchase and refund assistance for unauthorized purchases.”

The FTC asked the court to require that Amazon refund unauthorized charges and to prevent it from billing account holders for future in-app charges without their consent.

A year ago, federal district court Judge John Coughenour agreed to the refunds. He wrote: “The Court determines that the scope of Amazon’s unfair billing practices pertains to all in-app charges made by account users without express, informed authorization.” But he denied the FTC’s request for the future billing ban.


Richardson noted, “The Court here affirmed our commitment to customers when it ruled no changes to current Appstore practices were required. To continue ensuring a great customer experience, we are happy to provide our customers what we have always provided: refunds for purchases they did not approve.”

The FTC appealed the judge’s decision in hopes of securing a future ban, and Amazon appealed the refund order. Last month, both sides agreed to drop their appeals so the refund process could begin.

According to the FTC, when Amazon introduced in-app charges in its Appstore in November 2011, it didn’t require any password to spend real money inside an app. In March 2012, the FTC said, the company updated its system to require the account owner to enter a password for single purchases over $20. That meant children could still make an unlimited number of purchases under $20 each.

Then in early 2013, Amazon began requiring a password for some charges, the FTC said. But even when a parent authorized a single charge, that permission sometimes lasted for up to an hour, allowing children to make more purchases without new authorization.

“Not until June 2014, roughly two and a half years after the problem first surfaced,” did Amazon begin to require account holders’ consent for in-app charges on its newer mobile devices,” the FTC explained in a statement.

The judge’s ruling noted that, “By December 2011, (Amazon Appstore Director) Aaron Rubenson referred to the amount of customer complaints as ‘near house on fire.’… Rubenson also referred to ‘accidental purchasing by kids’ as one of two issues the company needed to solve.”



Amazon May Be Looking To Fill Your Prescriptions

Amazon is hiring a business lead to figure out how the company can break into the multi-billion-dollar pharmacy market.

For the last few years, Amazon has held at least one annual meeting at its Seattle headquarters to discuss whether it should enter the pharmacy business, says two people familiar with the company’s plans.

But this year, with the rise of high-deductible plans and the trend toward consumers paying for health care, it is ready to get more serious.


Two people said that it’s not a done deal that Amazon will move into this space, given the complex web of established players. But it is bringing on a new general manager to lead the team and formulate a strategy, and is deep in discussions with industry experts. That hire would sit under the consumables business, the source said.

Another person said Amazon has started to recruit more broadly from the pharmacy space.

The company recently started selling medical supplies and equipment in the U.S., and is hiring for its “professional health care program” to ensure that the company is meeting regulatory requirements. It also hired Mark Lyons two months ago from Premera Blue Cross. A source said that Lyons is tasked with building an internal pharmacy benefits manager for Amazon employees, which might be later scaled out.

Amazon declined to comment.

Japan Times reported in April that the company expanded its Prime Now delivery service to include drug and cosmetic sales, with the support of local partners. Amazon’s category page on its Japanese site now includes “pharmaceuticals,” and sells drugs to patients with approval from a pharmacist.




My New Travel Book Cover

My new travel book cover arrived today and I think it’s one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen so far.  I order them early to give me that added motivation to finish and publish. This book will be broken down by regions. Also i’m doing research to make sure it’s different from other travel books but provides quality. The audio book will also be available this year. Adidas Wilson on Amazon, Itunes, and B&N. 


The first 4K TVs running Amazon’s software and Alexa launch today for under $500

Like Roku before it, Amazon is working with TV makers to release smart televisions with the company’s own software filling in as the main operating system. Today we’re getting a much better idea of what that looks like with the inexpensive Element Amazon Fire TV Edition 4K TV lineup. These TVs will also be sold under the Westinghouse brand (instead of Element) depending on market. They’re available to preorder at Amazon for prices ranging from $449 (43-inch model) to only $899 for a 65-inch display. You’ll be able to find them at stores sometime next month.


Unlike the TCL sets we recently saw, these TVs don’t support Dolby Vision or HDR. They’re just regular old 4K screens that run Amazon’s Fire TV software. I can’t speak for the display quality, as I only spent a few minutes looking at the Element and Westinghouse Fire TV Editions in a brightly lit conference room. Their prices and third-tier brands suggest that they won’t compete with today’s top UHD TVs, but they might be plenty good enough for some consumers. And the software side of things is really promising.


An included voice remote supports both voice search and Alexa, so you can control your smart lights or check the weather using Amazon’s assistant. As is the case with Amazon’s Fire TV streaming devices, Alexa will show you many results visually instead of just speaking them back. You’ve got to use the voice remote, however, as the TV won’t just be listening for “Alexa” constantly. (And maybe mics in TVs are a bad idea.)

Back in December, Amazon overhauled its Fire TV software with a new look that’s far superior to the old version. Now it’s fast, easy to understand, and looks a little more modern than Roku’s OS, which also hangs its hat on simplicity. You can get a good sense of the software from each company in the video below.

But remember that this is a little different than just the Fire TV Stick running Fire TV software; this is a TV using Fire TV as its core operating system. So it does more than just stream. If you plug in an antenna, the TVs will automatically download local listings with Gracenote and you’ll see nice show artwork as you channel surf between networks. There’s a straightforward on-screen programming guide with channel names instead of numbers, and TV channels get mixed into your “Recents” area of the Fire TV software, letting you quickly hop between Netflix and a sports game that might be airing on CBS or Fox.

Since the TV comes with 16GB of internal storage, you can also pause and rewind live TV from your antenna. That’s a feature that Roku TVs only added in November, so you can see just how aggressively and quickly Amazon is catching up. And those same voice controls on the remote also let you switch inputs, adjust volume, and other critical TV functions. (You can just say “Go to NBC” instead of a channel number to switch live TV channels, also.) My only gripe with the remote is there’s no headphone port. I love that private listening feature on Roku, but you’ve still got the option to use Bluetooth headphones.





Bill Gates told new grads to read this book. Now it’s surging on Amazon

Since stepping down as Microsoft’s chief executive in 2000, Bill Gates has seen his reputation transform from that of a hard-nosed businessman intent on shutting out the competition — which produced comparisons to oil magnate John D. Rockefeller — to that of a wise, inspiring philanthropist seeking to solve some of the world’s toughest social challenges.

Now, Gates regularly dispenses the wisdom he’s gained over the years in an effort to get people to dream bigger, think more positively and be a force for good. He’s even willing to give all this advice for free.

On Monday, Gates delivered what seemed like an entire graduation speech in the span of 14 tweets.

Like the best commencement speeches, Gates’s tweetstorm is a personal reflection on the ways he’s grown since he was a young adult. He admits that it took him “decades” to learn about inequality, and he says he no longer believes there is only one way to measure intelligence. He also articulates a philosophy that drives what he does: the notion that the world is steadily getting better, not worse.

The argument for that, Gates said, is laid out in a 2011 book called “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” Written by Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, the book attempts to explain why, as the New York Timesput it, “our era is less violent, less cruel and more peaceful than any previous period of human existence,” despite headlines that may scream to the contrary.

“That matters,” Gates tweeted, “because if you think the world is getting better, you want to spread the progress to more people and places.”

So it’s probably no surprise that, in light of Gates’s recommendation, “Better Angels” is surging on Amazon. As of Monday afternoon, it had risen in Amazon’s sales rankings by more than 6,000 percent in the previous 24 hours. (Update: As of Tuesday morning, the book had risen 605,000 percent to claim the number-two spot on Amazon’s movers-and-shakers list.)



What Does Amazon Owe to Authors?

Amazon is once again ruffling the feathers of publishers and authors alike, this time for a change in its policy that allows the “buy button” to redirect to the seller with the best customer service rating and pricing for the item. That’s all well and good if you’re purchasing a kayak from a third-party seller–after all, lower prices and faster order fulfillment are what keep customers coming back–but this change also extends to books.

This change means that the very publishers who sell their own works–whether they are the authors themselves, fully operating publishers, or authors with their own imprint for business purposes–can now be undersold and therefore not be the actual seller when a consumer (oblivious to the rule change) clicks “add to cart.” Unless the consumer takes the time to notice who will be fulfilling the order and then bothers to click for further options in order to find the actual content owner, one of the many “bookshop” sellers who buys a book, undercuts the price, and then makes up for it in outrageous shipping fees can get that sale.

The middle-of-the-fence conundrum is this: what exactly does Amazon “owe” to authors? Yes, it was arguably the authors and small presses who’ve propelled Amazon to its current earning status by selling their content and bringing in customers, otherwise Amazon could have just been another B&N, Borders, or Books-A-Million. But who is Amazon’s favored demographic, writers or consumers?

When Goodreads (owned by Amazon) was facing near-daily backlash for allowing abusive reviews that ultimately ended up on retail channels due to API agreements, the site had a simple message for the victims: “we’re not here for authors to feel good, we’re a site for readers to express their opinions.” Basically, the answer was suck it up, buttercup, and Goodreads refused to take the requested drastic action against members who were seen as unfair in their behavior.

Now, the same is true of Amazon’s retail practices. Their end goal is providing the best possible outcome for consumers in order to retain customers, and less about making sure authors earn as much money as they can. The only recourse at this time for authors who don’t agree is to stop allowing Amazon to be their only retail channel, something that might actually hurt Amazon enough to force a change to this rule. Perhaps it’s time to help the next retail channel grow too big.




Amazon Video for Apple TV will reportedly be announced next month

The long wait to be able to stream TV shows and movies from Amazon on the Apple TV is nearly over. BuzzFeed News is reporting that an Amazon Video app designed for Apple’s set-top box will be announced at next month’s WWDC keynote. Recode revealed last week that Amazon and Apple were nearing an agreement that would bring to rest their years-long living room standoff. The Amazon app is likely to launch sometime this summer, though BuzzFeed News notes that the release timeframe could change.


In exchange, Amazon will resume sales of the Apple TV. The online retail giant halted sales of the device in October 2015 because Apple’s box didn’t offer any way for Prime subscribers to access Amazon’s content. (Google’s Chromecast was also kicked off of Amazon for the same reason.)


Keeping its content off the Apple TV for this long has ultimately been Amazon’s decision, however. Last May, CEO Jeff Bezos said that Amazon had yet to release an Apple TV appbecause the two sides couldn’t land on “acceptable business terms.” It took many months, but these two recent reports suggest that Apple and Amazon have reached a deal that’s acceptable to both.

Bringing Amazon to the Apple TV could be essential if Apple plans to release an updated version of the product that supports 4K playback. Amazon is one of the largest sources of 4K movies and TV shows, though a fair amount of content is also available from services like Netflix and YouTube. Both of those companies offer apps for Apple TV.



Warren Buffett: I was wrong on Google and ‘too dumb’ to appreciate Amazon

Warren Buffett admits he should’ve invested in Google or Amazon instead of IBM at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting  Sunday, 7 May 2017 | 12:57 PM ET | 01:05

Warren Buffett admitted to shareholders Saturday that he made a mistake by not buying Google shares years ago, when the company was getting $10 or $11 per advertising click from Berskhire Hathaway consumer insurance company subsidiary Geico.

The Oracle of Omaha also professed ignorance on other big technology stocks, whose rallies he missed because he didn’t quite appreciate their value proposition at first glance.

On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, Buffett said, “If I was forced to buy [Google-parent Alphabet] or short it, I’d buy it; same way with Amazon. But it’s as little hard when you look at something at ‘X’ and it sells at 10X to buy it.”


“That’s cost people a lot of money at Berkshire,” he said.

Buffett has often said he avoided tech stocks in the past because he didn’t really understand how they were making money and whether they would be able to do so over the long term. This week, Oracle copped to getting it wrong on another tech company: IBM.

For years, Buffett was a true believer in Big Blue, but told CNBC in an interview he had cut his holdings in the stock by a third. “I don’t value IBM the same way that I did six years ago when I started buying,” he said, adding that the company as “run into some pretty tough competitors.”

In the case of Google, however, Buffett said he could have figured out the company had a great advertising business because he was, in effect, contributing to its profits.

After profusely praising Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, Buffett said he missed that opportunity as well.

“I was too dumb to realize. I did not think [Bezos] could succeed on the scale he has,” Buffett said, adding that he “really underestimated the brilliance of the execution.” The investor humbly admitted that he and partner Charlie Munger “miss a lot of things, and we’ll keep doing it.”




Amazon modifies its Kindle ebook contracts following EU investigation

Amazon has accepted new contract terms with book publishers in the European Union after Commissioner Margrethe Vestager led an investigation into Amazon’s practices. After today’s decision, Amazon will no longer force publishers to provide the best price on the company’s Kindle store.

The investigation started a couple of years ago as publishers started to worry that Amazon’s contracts would hurt everyone’s bottom line. With that clause, publishers wouldn’t be able to sell their own books on other platforms at a cheaper price.

This used to increase Amazon’s competitive advantage and tended to create a race to the bottom. Now, publishers have a bit more power against Amazon. And other distribution platforms like Apple’s iBooks Store can compete more easily.

Publishers can renegotiate their contracts starting today, and especially the pricing part. Amazon can no longer demand the best price in new contracts starting today.


Amazon is accepting those demands so that it doesn’t have to pay any fine following the investigation. At the same time, the ebook market has more or less stagnated for the last few years. It is no longer the hot new thing that it used to be five years ago. People like buying actual books after all.

So it seems like it’s not worth fighting this fight for Amazon. The company is probably more worried about a potential investigation into its tax practices.

Like many companies, Amazon has been optimizing its tax rate by paying royalties to a subsidiary that pays very little taxes. By settling the ebook case with the European Commission, Amazon shows that it is willing to negotiate with the European Union.


Amazon modifies its Kindle ebook contracts following EU investigation

My Ultimate Goal for Self Publishers

Why Amazon’s use of self-driving technology would be a game changer

Self-driving vehicles have yet to hit the road in a major way, but Amazon already is exploring the technology’s potential to change how your packages are delivered.

Amazon is the nation’s largest online retailer, and its decisions not only turn heads but influence the entire retail and shipping industries, analysts say. That means any foray into the self-driving arena – whether as a developer or customer – could have a significant effect on the technology’s adoption.

Amazon has assigned a dozen employees to determine how it can use the technology as part of its business, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. It’s unclear what shape Amazon’s efforts will take or how far along they might be, although the company has no plans to create its own vehicles, according to the report.

Nevertheless, the Amazon group offers an early indication that big companies are preparing for the technology’s impact.

Transportation experts anticipate that self-driving cars will fundamentally alter the way people get around and the way companies ship goods, changes that stand to disrupt entire industries and leave millions of professional drivers without jobs. The forthcoming shift has attracted the money and attention of the biggest names in the technology and automotive industries, including Apple, Uber, Google, Ford, General Motors and Tesla, among others.


In particular, the technology could make long-haul shipping cheaper and faster because, unlike human drivers, machines do not command a salary or require down time. That would be important to Amazon, whose shipping costs continue to climb as the company sells more products and ships them faster, according to its annual report. Amazon even invested in its own fleet of trucks in December 2015 to give the company greater control over distribution.

If Amazon adopts self-driving technology, it may push others to do the same.

“When Amazon sneezes, everyone wakes up,” said Satish Jindel, president of SJ Consulting Group, a transportation and logistics advisory firm.

The company said it shipped more than 1 billion items during the 2016 holiday season.


An Amazon spokeswoman declined a request for an interview, citing a “long-standing practice of not commenting on rumors and speculation.” The company’s chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

Amazon has become something of a pioneer in home delivery, in part by setting the standard for how quickly purchases arrive on your doorstep. The company has begun using aerial drones in an effort to deliver goods more quickly, completing its first successful flight to a customer in the United Kingdom in December. Like self-driving vehicles, drones will need to overcome regulatory hurdles before they’re widely deployed.

In its warehouses, Amazon has used thousands of robots that pull items from shelves and pack them. Last summer, Deutsche Bank analysts found the robots reduced the time to fulfill an order from more than an hour to 15 minutes, according to business news site Quartz. They also saved Amazon about $22 million per warehouse. Amazon acquired Kiva, the company that makes the robots, in 2012 for $775 million.




Amazon Fire TV Launches in India

The stick, which enables Amazon Prime Video and rival services, such as Netflix and ErosNow, to be viewed on TV sets, becomes available in its fifth country.

Amazon has launched its Fire TV stick in India, making it the fifth country where the device becomes available after the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan. 

The Amazon Fire TV stick comes preloaded with apps, including Amazon Prime Video and rival OTT platforms, such as Netflix, Fox India’s Star network-owned Hotstar, Viacom18’s Voot and Indian film major Eros International’s ErosNow, among others. The device also offers access to YouTube, various gaming apps and more.

Fire TV made its U.S. debut in 2014. The Fire TV stick with remote, which allows users to put apps such as Prime Video and Netflix on TV sets, is priced at about $62 (3,999 rupees) compared with $39 in the U.S.

The higher price is due to various extra content offerings, such as six months of advertising-free music from Indian music streamer Gaana, a free ErosNow membership running for three months and one month of ad-free streaming from Voot and Voot Kids. Also included in the bundle is 100 gigabytes of free data for three months from Indian internet service provider Airtel Broadband.

The launch announcement was made Wednesday at a press conference in New Delhi that featured such Amazon executives as Prime Video India director and country head Nitesh Kripalani and Amazon Fire TV vp Marc Whitten.

“Fire TV Stick offers access to a vast selection of movies and TV shows, popular apps and features designed specifically for customers in India, including powerful voice search for Amazon Video titles in Hindi and English,” said Whitten. “Fire TV Stick also offers data monitoring and other features to help customers in India get the most from their data plan and stream more content using less bandwidth.”

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to bolster its India content offerings with the launch of animated series Baahubali: The Lost Legends, based on the epic Baahubali film franchise. Last year’s Baahubali: The Beginning was a box-office hit that reached an estimated $100 million worldwide. The sequel, Baahubali: The Conclusion, is being released April 28. Amazon Prime Video in India has also enhanced its Hollywood lineup with Suicide Squad.




Amazon has patented an automated on-demand clothing factory

Standard operating procedure in the apparel industry goes like this: Make clothes, and then sell them. It can take weeks, if not months, to manufacture clothes, so that step has to come first. It can be a costly upfront investment, and items that don’t sell get discounted, eating into margins.

But Amazon, the ecommerce giant steadily growing into the largest apparel seller in the US, has another idea. Recode reports that the company, which has been building out its own apparel lines, has been granted a patent for an on-demand apparel-manufacturing system that would let it make clothes only once orders have been placed.

The system, which the company submitted its patent application for in December 2015, is founded on data and automation. A “computing device” would collect orders and organize them according to how they could be most efficiently produced. They could be grouped by geographic location, for instance, or by the type of fabric required, or by the assembly processes involved.

As Amazon explains it in the patent, “By aggregating orders from various geographic locations and coordinating apparel assembly processes on a large scale, the networked environment provides new ways to increase efficiency in apparel manufacturing.”

Based on the orders, an automated system at an Amazon facility would produce the clothes. A textile printer would create the various fabrics needed. The fabrics would then be automatically fed over to a textile cutter, which would cut out pattern pieces from the sheets of fabric to be assembled into the finished garments.

Cameras would monitor the process, and an “image analyzer” could spot if anything went wrong, such as the textiles bunching, stretching, or being cut incorrectly. The system would adjust itself to correct the issue, signal an attendant for assistance, or flag the panel as a misprint to be discarded. Eventually the finished products would be checked for quality, packed, and shipped.

It’s unclear whether Amazon is actively working on building the system, or if it’s intended to fulfill wholesale orders placed by businesses or individual customer orders. Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment, but it normally doesn’t discuss future plans.

If Amazon is able to get on-demand manufacturing up and running, it could be a powerful weapon in its bid to become an apparel powerhouse. Quick, agile supply chains have allowed fast-fashion labels such as Zara, and even speedier upstarts, to outperform their competition. They allow brands to respond quickly to changes in the market, and limit the amount of inventory that may not sell at full price.

On-demand manufacturing takes those advantages to a new level. And now Amazon, which is already winning at retail with its hyper-efficient Prime service, may be trying to make it a reality.


Amazon has patented an automated on-demand clothing factory

Amazon Scammers Are Using This Trick to Make Millions

Counterfeit products and merchant account breaches aren’t the only problems Amazon has to deal with on its e-commerce platform. Many of Amazon’s third-party sellers assert that most of the “just launched” merchants on Amazon Marketplace are peddling products that simply don’t exist, offering a low price to entice naive buyers.

Legitimate sellers are immensely frustrated by what they see as fraudulent competition — some even think it’s an attack on Amazon, perhaps Chinese corporate espionage. The direct financial impact on Amazon is hard to judge, let alone the damage to the website’s brand, but sellers’ outrage is very clear.

Amazon denies that “just launched” scammers have a significant impact on their platform. “Amazon has zero tolerance for fraud,” a spokesperson emailed Inc. “We withhold payment to sellers until we are confident that our customers have received the products and services they ordered. In the event that sellers do not comply with the terms and conditions they’ve agreed to, we work quickly to take action on behalf of customers.” Amazon also noted it works with law enforcement to combat fraud.

Here’s how the scam supposedly works: Someone signs up for an Amazon seller account using fake information. They use software to identify the most prominent listings, then say they are also offering those products for sale. (Occasionally the fake seller will build up a couple of months of legitimate activity first, or hijack an established seller account.) People buy from the fake listings, and are told the product will be shipped in a couple of weeks. By the time they realize the product isn’t coming, the fake seller has already made off with the money, and Amazon ends up eating the refund cost.

In March, video game website Polygon noted a rash of unrealistically low-priced Nintendo Switches supposedly for sale on Amazon. “It seems as if Amazon is being gripped by sellers who sign up with fresh accounts, list popular items below market price with a longer than usual shipping range, and then mark the item as shipped once they receive your money. By the time the shipping date has passed and you file for a return, the seller is long gone.”

Polygon’s account is slightly imprecise: Amazon pays its sellers roughly every 14 days, and it doesn’t disburse money to sellers until they confirm that an order has been shipped. But crucially, sellers don’t have to prove the item was actually received. It’s not clear whether Amazon verifies the tracking numbers that sellers provide, but even if they do, a seller could pay for a shipping label and receive a valid tracking number without ever mailing a product.

A Forbes story published in January noted the same pattern that Polygon did. “While Amazon admitted the fraud and backed up these purchases with their A-to-Z Guarantee, it still left me empty-handed on Christmas morning — a state of affairs in which I was not alone,” Wade Shepard wrote.

Posts about scammers are frequent and popular on the Amazon Seller Forums. One person wrote, “Ever[y] single thread on the forums should be this issue until Amazon responds or fixes it. The fact that I have to come here in desperation is unacceptable.”

In numerous discussions with Inc., as well as in forum posts, sellers said Amazon’s buyer-protection guarantee means the company is eating refund costs once customers realize they’ve been scammed. Other sellers have speculated the scammers make money by selling customer information. As with the issue of counterfeits, virtually all sellers are upset by the perceived lack of communication and transparency from Amazon. The majority of the sellers who spoke with Inc. requested anonymity, citing fears the company would retaliate.

“I see these sellers coming and going, coming and going, all day long,” said Fred Ruckel. Ruckel invented a popular cat toy called the Ripple Rug, and he’s dealt with problems on the e-commerce platform before. “All day long there’s sellers that are ‘just launched,’ then gone, ‘just launched,’ then gone. It’s incredible that… their system is not blocking people.”

Ruckel suggested, “All they have to do is say that when you sign up to be a seller on the Amazon Marketplace, you have to give, let’s say, a $1,000 deposit, and that deposit will stay on for six months — or until you’ve shipped X amount of orders and satisfied X amount of customers, so that we know you are a real seller.”

A user on the Amazon Seller Forums wrote, “It is my hope that Amazon impose[s] a policy to limit the number of products offered by new sellers during an automatic vetting period to verify identity and banking.” The user continued, “I cannot believe Amazon is not doing everything they can eliminate these sellers, it must be costing them millions. I think Amazon should be more proactively communicating with their sellers so everyone can be aware of these fraudulent practices and more sellers could assist in removing these scammers.”



33 Strategies of Kama Sutra : Make Her Scream – Last Longer, Come Harder, And Be The Best She’s Ever Had

Among the most vulnerable things that can wear out with time is intimacy. Most couples go through difficult times and commitments that take a toll on their intimacy. In most cases, when affection wears among lovers, one person is usually affected than the other. If any of the partners does not take the initiative to restore intimacy into the relationship, chances are your relationship will end up breaking as one or both of you seek intimacy from outside.

It is believed that the human body is a small atomic factory where chemical elements needed in the body are continually manufactured using low quantities of energy. Besides, there is also the production of energy sufficient for extraordinary phenomena. These include higher states of consciousness, paranormal abilities, sublimation of particular energies and higher intelligence. Others are elevated levels of happiness and euphoria, to mention just a few.

If you can move into lovemaking totally the ego disappears, because at the highest peak, at the highest climax of lovemaking, you are pure energy.


Amazon’s Third-Party Sellers Get Ripped Off By Hackers

Hackers have zeroed in on the growing number of third-party sellers on Amazon Marketplace, reportedly using stolen logins to swipe thousands of dollars from some merchants.

In recent weeks, hackers have ramped up their attacks by taking over dormant accounts and changing the bank account information. They’ll then post nonexistent merchandise at bargain prices, make the sell and collect the cash, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Buyers can get a refund, but the scam hits sellers hard, since they’re on the hook for reimbursing customers who never received their merchandise.

Margina Dennis, a professional makeup artist working in New York City, told NBC News she still has more than one hundred emails to answer from angry customers who are wondering why they never received a Nintendo Switch hackers posted from her account. That’s in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars in debt she is now contesting after her account was compromised.

“This has been mentally, emotionally, so trying and the level of frustration trying to deal with them,” Dennis said. “Basically their response is, ‘We received a notice and we’ll get back to you when we get back to you. We can’t tell you when or if.'”

The issue came to Dennis’ attention when she said she received hundreds of emails from buyers complaining they never received the Nintendo Switch the ordered from her account.

Amazon sent Dennis a note on March 29th saying she may have been hacked, however she said she had to wait days for her account to be taken down since the hacker changed the password and she was unable to log in.

“I know people who have been dealing with this longer than I have and it is all falling on deaf ears,” Dennis said.

She added, she would never shop or sell on Amazon again, “if it’s the last thing on Earth.”

The company is working to make sure sellers like Dennis don’t have to handle the financial burden of the hacks, a person familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Amazon spokesman Erik Fairleigh told NBC News in a statement that the company, “is constantly innovating on behalf of customers and sellers to ensure their information is secure and that they can buy and sell with confidence on Amazon.com.”

“There have always been bad actors in the world; however, as fraudsters get smarter so do we,” he said.

Amazon’s statement also suggested people monitor their accounts on a regular basis and turn on two-factor authentication, sending a code to their phone and adding an extra layer of security.

The hacks appeared to stem from stolen credentials from other places that were then sold on the dark web.

Hackers then likely used a method called “credential stuffing,” trying out stolen or leaked usernames and passwords on other different popular websites to try to login there too, Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security at SentinelOne told NBC News.

“This particular attack is almost two decades old. You shouldn’t allow a merchant account to sit dormant for long,” Grossman told NBC News.

Amazon’s Marketplace has two million sellers — and an estimated one hundred thousand pulling in six figures, making it a “juicy target and complex to manage from a security point of view,” said Matthew Gardiner, a cybersecurity strategist at email security company, Mimecast.

“Whomever bears ultimate responsibility for the Amazon attacks, what seems clear is that the security controls in place are not sufficient for the risk,” he said.



Amazon Is Hiring 5,000 Work-From-Home Jobs

Amazon plans to hire 30,000 part-time workers in the U.S. over the next year, the company announced in a press release on Thursday.

The hires include 5,000 work-from-home positions, which will be part of the retailer’s virtual customer service department.

Virtually-located employees who work 20 hours per week are eligible for the company’s benefits program and its innovative Career Choice program that pre-pays 95 percent of tuition for courses related to skills relevant to their position at the company.

The company currently employs more than 10,000 military veterans and pledged to hire an additional 25,000 over the next five years.

It’s pledged to create more than 100,000 full-time, full-benefit jobs in the U.S. over the next 18 months.

“There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job—whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent—and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live,” said Tom Weiland, Amazon Vice President for Worldwide Customer Service. “We’re finding that roles with Virtual Customer Service are particularly attractive to military spouses who want to continue working and parenting, even if their spouse is deployed or the family is relocated, as often happens with military families. Wounded, injured or ill military veterans and others with mobility challenges are also enjoying these opportunities to work from home with Amazon. Both active duty and retired service men and women support our country and we are happy to support them.”

Amazon Virtual Customer Service employee Sabrina Tierce relocated six years ago from central California to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State where her husband is stationed as an Army medic. “It’s amazing to have a job that offers me the flexibility to care for my child when needed and even to move around the country if we are relocated,” said Tierce. “My commute is about 15 paces. The worst part of my day is if there’s a Lego on the stairway, because that’s a rough commute to work.”

Bezos is selling $1 billion of Amazon stock a year to fund rocket venture

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos said on Wednesday he is selling about $1 billion worth of the internet retailer’s stock annually to fund his Blue Origin rocket company, which aims to launch paying passengers on 11-minute space rides starting next year.

Blue Origin had hoped to begin test flights with company pilots and engineers in 2017, but that probably will not happen until next year, Bezos told reporters at the annual U.S. Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

“My business model right now … for Blue Origin is I sell about $1 billion of Amazon stock a year and I use it to invest in Blue Origin,” said Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon.com and also the owner of The Washington Post newspaper.


Ultimately, the plan is for Blue Origin to become a profitable, self-sustaining enterprise, with a long-term goal to cut the cost of space flight so that millions of people can live and work off Earth, Bezos said.

Bezos is Amazon’s largest shareholder, with 80.9 million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data. At Wednesday’s closing share price of $909.28, Bezos would have to sell 1,099,771 shares to meet his pledge of selling $1 billion worth of Amazon stock. Bezos’ total Amazon holdings, representing a 16.95 percent stake in the company, are worth $73.54 billion at Wednesday’s closing price.



Amazon will soon refund up to $70 million of in-app purchases made by children

Nearly one year after Amazon was found guilty of illegally billing users for unauthorized in-app purchases, the company has dropped its appeal against the decision, paving way for refunds to finally commence.

The in-app charges stemmed from purchases made by kids when playing with freemium apps. In the 2016 decision, a US federal judge found that Amazon failed to clearly inform parents that free apps may still include in-app purchases, and did not provide enough notice and password requirements to prevent unwanted charges. The Federal Trade Commission estimated that parents were charged upwards of $70 million between November 2011 and May 2016.

According to the FTC, Amazon will begin is refund program “shortly.” In November, Amazon’s request to refund the purchases in the form of gift cards was rejected by a US district judge, so the company is expected to refund affected customers money back directly to their debit or credit card, or via paper checks.



Amazon Wants to Dress You

In 2012, on the first Monday in May, Jeff Bezos stepped onto the red carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for the annual Costume Institute gala — the fashion world’s biggest, best, most exclusive event — wearing a black Tom Ford tuxedo with a white pocket square and patent leather shoes.

The Amazon founder was dressed to impress. His company had sponsored the blockbuster evening, along with that year’s accompanying exhibit, “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” As honorary chairman of the gala, Bezos was stationed at the top of the museum’s stairs, greeting industry celebrities and actual celebrities alike alongside Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, designer Miuccia Prada, and actress Carey Mulligan.

Bezos was dogged about allying his e-commerce juggernaut with the fashion community, and his efforts didn’t just pertain to philanthropy. Leading up to the Met Gala, the tight-lipped CEO told the New York Times that Amazon was making a “significant” investment in fashion. Though Amazon had previously acquired a few fashion e-commerce companies, Bezos was now keen on building a dedicated fashion hub on its own flagship site. The hub, to be known as Amazon Fashion, would have a special landing page to direct shoppers to clothing and accessories and promote Amazon partnerships with fashion brands; it would also have its own merchandising and editorial teams.

In anticipation, Bezos hired Cathy Beaudoin, a Gap executive who started the now-defunct shoe site Piperlime, to head up the project known as Amazon Fashion; Julie Gilhart, a former fashion director at Barneys, was brought on as a consultant. Amazon convinced designers like Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, and Tracy Reese to sell their products on Amazon Fashion, and the company was in the process of building a40,000-square-foot photo studio in Brooklyn where it could shoot original photography for the site.


But even with all these efforts — and the Tom Ford tux — Bezos was decidedly out of his element at the Met. While he told model Elettra Wiedemann, who hosted the event’s very first (and last) livestream, that Amazon “really wanted to participate in this gala as a way of showing our commitment to this industry,” he had also admitted to Bloomberg earlier that morning that “before we got involved, this event wasn’t on my radar at all.”

A photo of Bezos looking bored, with his bowtie slightly askew, surfaced on Vogue and eventually hit tech blogs, where he wasteased for not being able to fake his interest in fashion for very long, even if he was dining next to Scarlett Johansson and Mick Jagger.

Five years later, Bezos and Amazon have not backed off their aggressive pursuit of fashion. Since 2015, the company has sponsored New York Fashion Week: Men’s. Last year, it premiered a 30-minute HSN-style shopping show called Style Code Live that airs live every weeknight on Amazon.com and picked up The Fashion Fund, the documentary-style show about the process behind the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competition that previously ran on Ovation TV, and Hulu before that. These days it’s also sponsoring international fashion weeks, notably in India and Japan.


Plenty of brands have entered into official partnerships with Amazon since the Met Gala, too. There are now dozens of premium fashion labels selling their wares directly on the site, includingStuart Weitzman, Kate Spade, Rebecca Taylor, Milly, Frye, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and Ferragamo.(Hundreds more brands are sold by third-party sellers via Amazon’s massive free-for-all marketplace.) Even Gap CEO Art Peck told investors he was open to wholesaling to Amazon — an unusual move for the once-dominant company.

With its newly robust list of brands, Amazon seems to be making good on what Beaudoin told the Seattle Times back in 2013: “We want to be a great department store, like Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Saks.” It’s worth noting that while Amazon is on the upswing, those great department stores are in serious trouble.


According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, department store sales shrunk from $67.56 billion in 2011 to $60.65 billion in 2015; meanwhile, Amazon’s clothing and accessories sales nearly quadrupled from $4.3 billion to $16.4 billion during that same period. Macy’s is currently the largest fashion retailer in the country, but according to finance firm Cowen & Co., Amazon will soon replace it, with a projected $28 billion in apparel sales this year.

So yes, when it comes to Amazon’s fashion ambitions, this is just the beginning.



Amazon Can Now Function As Your Stylist, Should You Need One

Just when we thought there weren’t any more everyday decisions we could simply delegate to Amazon, the online retailer is coming after our outfit-planning strategies.
The company quietly introduced a feature on its app which allows Amazon Prime customers to have a stylist weigh in between two #OOTDs and choose one for you, TechCruch reports. Sorry, designated outfit-consultant friend: Our “Do you like Option #1 or #2?” text exchanges might be over.
“Outfit Compare” lives under the “Programs and Features” tab on the Amazon app. Once the user uploads two images of themselves wearing different outfits, the company pings a stylist who will pick which one looks better, based on a series of considerations, from fit to color to trends, according to TechCrunch.
Unlike your friend who reads your texts but doesn’t respond immediately (or, worse: lets their response linger on their keyboard), Amazon’s stylist will respond in about a minute, delivering their decision on a “style scale” which has three options: “Definitely Pick This One!,” “We like this better,” and “It was a close call.” According to a spokesperson, users can get a different opinion by by swapping out one item from the original outfits and re-submitting their photos. “Outfit Compare” doesn’t host a chat or offer styling element to the service beyond the “style scale.”
There’s no shopping component integrated into “Outfit Compare” (yet), but TechCrunch positions this launch as the next step in Amazon’s quest to grow beyond a marketplace. While the feature is only available to Prime users as of now, it’s not meant for input on clothing or accessories bought exclusively off of the site — rather, it’s meant to offer a new type of service to its existing clientele. Simply put, it’s “a free service that gives Amazon Prime members a second opinion on what to wear,” a company spokesperson explained. Plus, it’s a different way to broach the fashion space, a category Amazon has been keen on for some time now, building a whole new way to get answers to a question we already ask ourselves on the daily. (It’s not a totally new concept in the tech world, though: Tinder Stacks offers a similar capability.)
Amazon is already the go-to place for millennials to shop. Now, it’s vying to be that friend we turn to when you’re torn between a crop top and a hard place (and by that, we mean a bell sleeve).
We’ve reached out to Amazon for more information and will update our story when we hear back.

Meet the eight private-label brands Amazon hopes will help it become a fashion powerhouse

Amazon is many things — restless tech giant, consumer-obsessed disruptor and e-commerce innovator.It is one of the top companies to watch in fashion, setting the tone for how to serve shoppers online, experimenting with how to sell to them in a physical environment through its new book stores and beckoning brands with billions of consumer clicks on its marketplace.

But will it grow into a fashion powerhouse under its own brands?

That could be one of the most important questions facing the industry right now as the economics of retail break down, the web gains steam and store traffic slips away.

The answer starts with the eight brands Amazon already is developing into its private-label stable. They open up a window on its in-house fashion ambitions and show a company looking to take advantage of its scale and traffic with basic looks that can build replenishment businesses.

These are the brands Amazon has started with and is supporting actively, according to sources familiar with the effort:

• Lark & Ro: dresses billed as “Styles you’ll love, season after season.”

• Ella Moon: women’s wear described as “Globally inspired, everyday beautiful.”

• Mae: bralettes and panties.

• Paris Sunday: dresses and tops.

• Amazon Essentials: basic polo shirts, shorts, women’s intimates and the like.

• Buttoned Down: men’s dress shirts starting at $39.

• Goodthreads: casual men’s shirts and pants.

• Scout + Ro: kids’ styles.

(More are expected in the future. For instance, the company was looking earlier this year for someone to “build authentic activewear private-label brands.”)

The picture has been muddied somewhat as the outside world looks in and tries to determine just what’s going on behind the scenes at Amazon, which seems more likely to quietly test a new idea than making a splashy new rollout.

Some brands that Amazon sells were holdovers from the now-shuttered MyHabit.

An Amazon Fashion spokeswoman declined to discuss the company’s broader private-label efforts, but did note that, “Franklin & Freeman, Franklin Tailored and Society New York were MyHabit private brands whose inventory was transferred to Amazon after the subsidiary closed in July of 2016.”

Those brands tended to have more of a style-sensitive slant, giving the impression that Amazon was going after the fashion customer directly. But its core private-label offering shows an interest in at least starting simple.

“Similar to what they’ve done in diapers and baby wipes and batteries, they’re entering the market with, from what I can tell is an emphasis on the basics side of things,” said Matt Kaden, managing director at MMG Advisors.

Kaden said the web giant is learning from its broader fashion business.

“Amazon aggregates all this data on the markets and then with their private-label program they’re coming in to take market share,” he said. “There’s a ton of data, they’re going to process that data and use that to inform their product development.”

Kaden said Amazon, which is working with private-label producers to make the goods, is starting with small orders and then looking to replenish.

“If you’re a maker of basics, you should be watching them very closely,” he said. “They’re a promotion machine, they’re going to promote their own content. In high fashion, maybe it’s a different story. Or maybe not — to be determined.”

The notion of private label is, of course, very familiar to the fashion world, where brands have long resided next to and been compared with house-made goods.

Ed Yruma, managing director at KeyBanc Capital Markets and a close observer of Amazon, said the company’s private-label efforts are “looking closer and closer to your traditional — this is kind of a bad word today — your traditional department store.”

Amazon’s fashion brands are value oriented and are complemented on the site by branded merchandise from outside vendors.

“They’re kind of checking all the boxes now and this private label is really filling the same role that [it would] at Nordstrom or Macy’s,” Yruma said. “We think they’re going to continue to grow the private-label business and continue to be strategically focused on apparel.”

David Lamer, founder of fashion tech consultancy Core Brand Advisors, pointed to Lark & Ro and said Amazon was building “very sharply priced product — it’s basically easy items that people will gravitate to and search for.”

While many industry executives see Amazon as a competitor, Lamer said the danger tied to Amazon isn’t so much that the web giant is going to steal business from apparel companies, but that apparel companies aren’t going to keep up.

“Amazon is a threat to the fashion industry because it’s a technology that the fashion industry ought to be embracing in a big way and they’re not,” he said. “It’s not the future, it’s here.”



IRS loses lawsuit in attempt to get Amazon to pay $1.5B in back taxes

Amazon has successfully emerged from a lawsuit brought by the Internal Revenue Service, saving the company from a huge potential tax bill.

A federal tax court judge ruled last week that the agency’s determination that Amazon’s re-assessed tax liability for 2005 and 2006 of $1.5 billion plus interest was “arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.”

Had Amazon lost, it would have had to pay that full amount, plus interest, and perhaps more for subsequent years.

The case largely centered on a “cost-sharing arrangement” (also known as transfer pricing) between the company’s Seattle headquarters and its European subsidiary, Amazon Europe Holding Technologies SCS. In essence, Seattle charged the Luxembourg entity a certain price to license its technology, which by law is supposed to be done at “arm’s length” prices, or whatever Amazon would charge another firm. However, this has the effect of essentially incentivizing an undervalued amount, thereby reducing a company’s American tax liability.

Last year, the advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice noted that Amazon holds $1.5 billion offshore in “unrepatriated income.” Amazon has since updated that figure.

“Undistributed earnings of foreign subsidiaries that are indefinitely invested outside of the U.S. were $2.8 billion as of December 31, 2016,” the company notes in its February 2017 annual report. “Determination of the unrecognized deferred tax liability that would be incurred if such amounts were repatriated is not practicable.”

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and many other tech firms have recently come under increased scrutiny for abusing transfer pricing to drastically—and legally—reduce tax burdens. One particular technique, the “Double Irish,” was phased out in early 2015, but companies already using it have until 2020 to transition to something else.

Samuel Brunson, a tax law professor at Loyola University Chicago said that in transfer pricing cases that solely have to do with digital goods, figuring out their true price is difficult.

“I have no way of knowing what an arm’s length Amazon source code is worth,” he told Ars. “There’s no way that Amazon is going to sell it to a non-related entity. In terms of figuring out an actual fair price, makes it really, really hard.”



‘Alexa, order beer:’ Amazon adds Prime Now two-hour delivery voice ordering to digital assistant

Amazon has added Prime Now rapid delivery voice ordering to its Alexa-powered family of devices.

That means owners of any Alexa device — whether it is Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Fire Tablet, or Fire TV — simply have to say, “Alexa, order (product) from Prime Now.” Alexa will respond with an exact product that matches the general ask. Orders can feature multiple items, and Alexa can recommend complementary items based on what is already in the order.

Prime Now products are available for free, two-hour delivery, and Alexa is in charge of picking the closest available delivery window.

Voice-activated rapid delivery is now available for Amazon Prime customers in more than 30 cities. In three cities — Seattle, Columbus and Cincinnati — Alexa-based Prime Now orders can include beer, wine and spirits as well.

Amazon points to a variety of scenarios where it thinks people will see the value voice-activated Prime Now ordering. Sick people who can’t make it to the store and need some cold medicine, parents who have their hands full with a baby and a host of a game night who doesn’t want to leave the party are all examples of potential users of the new feature, according to Amazon.

“We’re excited to offer the full Prime Now catalogue with Alexa, including tens of thousands of items, which allows you to refill everyday essentials you’ve just run out of like diapers or dish soap, or cater to unexpected guests with merlot and ice cream, all without ever leaving your house or even getting up from the couch,” Assaf Ronen, vice president of voice shopping, said in a statement.

There are a few limitations, however. Users can’t complete in order through Alexa that they began on the Prime Now app. And, Alexa can’t track delivery progress for you. Customers also can’t place an order that includes both Prime Now items, and regular Amazon items.

Amazon has an early lead in the voice assistant market, thanks to Alexa and her more than 10,000 skills. Amazon has been adding Alexa to more of its own devices, and the company is now going after the smartphone market. Last week, Amazon announced plans to bring Alexa to iPhones and eventually Android devices.

Analysts believe that Alexa’s skills will pay off for Amazon. A recent analysts from RBC Capital Markets estimated that sales of Alexa devices could hit $5 billion by 2020, with another $5 billion in annual revenue predicted to come from shopping done via the voice assistant.

Despite those skills, Alexa still has much to learn. Amazon senior principal scientist Nikko Strom spoke at the AI NEXT tech conference in Bellevue, Wash., last weekend, where he said the next step for the digital assistant is comprehending emotion and intonation so that it can understand what people mean, not just what they say.



The Publishing Industry Relies On Midlist Authors

The publishing industry constantly bemoans the lack a true bestseller that generate significant revenue. Novels such as 50 Shades of Grey, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter not only sell millions of units in a short period of time, but consistently become huge income earners over the course of many financial quarters. Booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble also benefit from these types of novels, as they transcend a small minority of bookhounds and become mainstream success stories. The main problem is that a true bestseller only comes along every few years and it is the midlist author that sells between 20,000 to 100,000 units that become the bread and butter of the publishing and bookselling industry.

Casual readers might not be familiar with the term midlist or fail to understand what it means. Midlist is a term in the publishing industry which refers to books which are not bestsellers but are strong enough to economically justify their publication (and likely, further purchases of future books from the same author).

The big five publishers all have secret ways that they determine if a debut author will be offered a second book. They used to not give a second contract unless an author sold 50,000 copies, but due to the rise of self-publishing the so-called “magic number” is closer to 25,000 or 30,000. One agent, noting there’s far more variation at the paperback imprints of the big six, said most hardcover publishers today “would settle for 20,000.”

According to Author Earnings the vast majority of traditional publishing’s midlist-or-better earners started their careers more than a decade ago. Their more-recently debuted peers are not doing anywhere near as well. Fewer than 700 Big Five authors and fewer than 500 small-or-medium publisher authors who debuted in the last 10 years are now earning $25,000 a year or more on Amazon — from all of their hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook editions combined. By contrast, over 1,600 indie authors are currently earning that much or more.

Midlist authors all contribute to a publishers and booksellers bottom line, although they tend not to get many reviews by the New York Times or Publishers Weekly. Their books aren’t really reviewed by indie bloggers either, they mainly depend on Amazon reviews by the readers. These authors certainly are not household names, but are tremendously important to publishers for their consistent source of revenue.

Publishers are always hoping that one big book will come along, Girl on a Train or the new Barack Obama memoir. Books that will generate a copious amount of money, but it is the midlist authors that are the true heroes.



Amazon brings its voice assistant to the iPhone

Amazon has begun rolling out Alexa, its artificial intelligence voice assistant, on Apple’s iPhone via its main shopping app.

Users will need to hit the microphone icon at the top of the Amazon app for iPhone to wake Alexa up. Then users can ask Alexa to carry out tasks such as adding items to their Amazon shopping basket, or playing music through Amazon Prime Music, its Spotify rival service. Alexa can also answer a variety questions such as telling you the weather or doing simple calculations.

Alexa also has over 10,000 “skills”. These are essentially apps created by developers to carry out tasks using Alexa. Users can enable some of these skills via the iPhone.

Amazon has been making a big push to get Alexa integrated with a number of devices. It is already on the company’s Echo smart speaker, but at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, it also announced partnerships for Alexa to be on LG’s new refrigerator and even Huawei’s Mate 9 smartphone.

The e-commerce giant announced the latest move in a statement on its website on Thursday.

Scale is key for Alexa to improve as it requires large amount of data to learn. Voice assistants could also be a key driver for many companies in the future. For example, Alexa could bring Amazon $10 billion of revenues by 2020 from sales of devices like the Echo and even voice-driven shopping, according to a recent note published by RBC Capital Markets.

Amazon is encroaching on Apple’s territory by introducing Alexa on the iPhone, given that the latter has its own voice assistant called Siri. The decision to roll out Alexa inside its main shopping app won’t require users to download another piece of software. And given that Apple is the world’s second-largest smartphone maker by market share, significant adoption could give Alexa the scale it needs.

But Apple’s Siri arguably has an advantage on the iPhone because it is deeply integrated with the software on the phone and can be used to control or open certain apps, link with smart home devices, and is tied closer to Apple’s overall ecosystem. It also is quicker for a user to access Siri over Alexa as it doesn’t require an app to be opened.



Amazon Kindle’s terms ‘unreasonable’ and would take nine hours to read, Choice says

The first book-length work you may read on your Amazon Kindle is its terms and conditions.

An Australian consumer advocacy group has found that the e-reader’s terms and conditions are 73,198 words long, which would take the average person nine hours to read in full.

Consumer advocates Choice hired an actor to read aloud the entire agreement in nine hour-long installments posted on YouTube – from episode one, “No hope”, to the series finale, “Darkest before the dawn”.

The group is using the example of Kindle to call on the federal government to legislate to stop companies from forcing people to agree to contracts that they cannot reasonably be expected to have read.

Guardian Australia has contacted Amazon and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for comment.

Tom Godfrey, Choice’s head of media, said many terms and conditions agreements, not just Amazon Kindle’s, were “completely unreasonable” in their length and complexity. Kobo, another e-reader brand, had 9,844 words in its terms and conditions.


“They’re everywhere; it’s ubiquitous,” he said. “Pretty much any producer or digital service that you sign up to, you are agreeing to this very weighty, quite complex legalese that you have very little chance of understanding.

“We would like to see the federal government make sure that companies don’t compel consumers to enter into these contracts. Even if you do take the eight hours and 59 minutes to read a document like this, for the average person it’s very hard to understand.

“You don’t really know what rights you’re giving up and what issues you may face.”

In its review of the Kindle agreement, Choice said it found several clauses that would likely be deemed unfair under Australian consumer law. For example, agreeing to the Amazon contract compelled consumers to follow an arbitration process in the US and “expressively waive any other jurisdiction for a dispute”.

Australian consumer law grants consumers the right to a remedy direct from the retailer or manufacturer.

Though Amazon could be precluded from enforcing that clause by unfair contract legislation in Australia, Godfrey said it was still unreasonable and muddied the waters for consumers.

“You shouldn’t be forced to sign a contract with these terms,” Godfrey said. “You’ve got to remember, you’re just an individual and you’re up against an incredibly large, powerful, well-resourced organisation. The least they could do is provide you with this information in a simple-to-understand form.

“[But] the reason they bury you in this fine print is because it’s in their interests to do so.”

Asked whether Choice had had any indication of the federal government’s willingness to act on its campaign, Godfrey said it was “early days”.




Do not expect any Kindle innovation this year

The Amazon Kindle continues to be the world’s most popular e-reader brand, but in recent years there has been a severe stagnation with developing new hardware features. Amazon’s philosophy is that their hardware is good enough and users are not looking for anything fancy. This has been a boon to Kobo who continues to release waterproof devices with larger screens and new front-light technology that inhibits the amount of white light that emits from the screen.

The Kindle used to be at the forefront of innovation, but due to the lack of competition they have stepped away from innovation and continue to release incremental updates. The only thing they have really done over the past three years was developing software features, such as a new homescreen, new fonts and a new page flip engine that is only available in Japan. On a hardware level they did release the Oasis last year that had a battery built into the accompanied case, but the device suffers from terrible battery life overall and users have not embraced it due to the high cost.

Kobo on the other hand is constantly innovating and they continue to release large screen e-readers, which is resonating well with the public. You can take a Kobo with you to the beach or read it in the bathtub without the need of ruining your device. Kobo also packs more LED lights in their premium e-readers for better light distribution across the surface of the display, giving you you a better experience than the Kindle.

On a software level, Kobo is the only e-reader brand that has a read it later system built into their device, which allows you to send blog articles or longform journalism right to your device. If you are an advanced user you can load in your own fonts or adjust the weight and boldness of whatever font you are currently using to set the stage for your ideal reading experience. Kobo is also the only brand that has Overdrive functionality baked right into select models, which allows you to borrow and read e-books directly from your public library.

A few weeks ago Kobo released a new home screen system that makes their higher resolution devices shine. The overall UI and navigation system has also changed, making the e-reader more robust and intuitive.

Amazon is poised to release a number of new e-reader models this year but does anyone expect them to release a waterproof Kindle or adopt any new innovative technologies? A color Kindle is likely years away, as Amazon and Lab126 continue to hire Liquavista engineers and senior staff to put the technology into mass production.

I think Amazon’s best years are behind them when it comes to the Kindle. Their focus right now are selling e-books, low cost Fire tablets and Alexa.



Amazon.com now sells you stuff in Spanish

You can now browse Amazon’s main website and mobile app in Spanish — and, yes, we mean Amazon.com, not its .es counterpart. The e-commerce company has even added an easily accessible language settings option on the website’s interface, right next to the “Accounts & Lists” drop-down menu. As CNET noted, Amazon is most likely looking to attract more Spanish-speaking shoppers, especially since the US now has 41 millionnative speakers and 11 million bilingual residents. It even recently expanded Prime to cover Mexico, offering the same free unlimited shopping and streaming videos customers get in the US.

A spokesperson told the publication:

“Customers will be able to shop, browse and search for millions of products, view their shopping cart, and place orders in Spanish on Amazon.com and through the Amazon Mobile Shopping app.”

If you don’t see the option yet, you’ll get it soon enough. Amazon will continue rolling out the feature to more accounts over the next few weeks until everyone can access the new language option.



Does KDP Paperback Publishing Really Solve Anything?

Never one to be a naysayer, we at GoodEReader ordinarily go fan-girl level crazy over a new startup that innovates anything to do with digital publishing. But a new beta program from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing seems to solve a problem that no one has.

Until now, authors who wished to create an ebook for sale on Amazon went through a fairly straightforward upload process on KDP. (NOTE: the straightforward process only refers to the upload, not the formatting. That process can be daunting for the uninitiated, although there are step-by-step guides available online. For “fancy” formatting with a professional look, a lot of authors choose to hire a formatting expert.) If there was no need or desire to create a print book, then this was all it took.

Years ago, Amazon bought a small platform for print books, Create Space. Once Amazon incorporated CS into the process, all an author has to do is take their print-formatted file and upload it to CreateSpace.com; at the end of that process, the site will offer the option to publish it as an ebook on Amazon as well. Simply log into your Amazon account before you click that button, and everything from your converted file to your book’s description and keywords gets ported over in a nearly seamless process.

But Amazon has now announced the beta launch of KDP Paperback Publishing, billing it as a one-stop option inside KDP. The list of features in this print-on-demand option seems to be almost identical to the previous process, with some glaring exceptions. The announcement states that LATER ON authors will be able to order proof copies and wholesale copies at cost; that’s a feature they’ve been able to enjoy at CreateSpace all along. The email to authors also said they can earn UP TO 60% royalties on their print editions–again, it’s those words “up to” that don’t mean a lot–and that they can eventually have access to list their books in expanded distribution to bookstores, something they’ve been able to do all along through CS.

Apparently, nothing is changing except the ability to see all of your royalties in one dashboard instead of logging into both CS to check your print sales and KDP to check your ebook sales. There will now be one direct deposit per global market instead of one from Amazon for ebooks and one from InDemand Publishing (CS) for print. It just sounds like Amazon is finally ready to take the plunge and absorb CreateSpace into its family, or that some contract item in the original purchase of the company is finally going to expire.



Should Indie Authors Publish Exclusively With Amazon or Not?

We have been closely following the ascent of indie publishing superstars here at the Observer. They aren’t driving the conversation at the New York Review of Books yet, but these writers do have their hands on the wheel of the actual economy of writing fiction.

Lately, the best source of information on what’s going on in this new market is the website Author Earnings. It’s a joint venture between one of the most successful indie authors, Hugh Howey (whom we have talked to at length) and his collaborator, Data Guy, an anonymous numbers cruncher who devised the methodology for answering the questions Amazon won’t. Author Earnings just released a new report, and this one goes beyond Jeff Bezos’ baby, estimating total e-book sales at Apple, Google, Kobo and Barnes & Noble as well.

We recently covered Data Guy’s report on the still growing market for e-books, despite wide media reports to the contrary.

Thanks to this report’s wide view, Author Earnings is able to provide substantive guidance on whether or not indie authors should make titles available exclusively on Amazon, or if they should go wide and sell them via every possible retailer. Books sold only through Amazon get invited to join the Kindle Unlimited program, the company’s Netflix for e-books. In fact, Amazon pays authors in that program more money than non-exclusive authors earn in all the other channels combined, the report explains. But it’s not quite that simple.

The report also says:

“’Wide’ authors who are able to effectively take advantage of promotional opportunities at other retailers often see far more than the a quarter of their sales coming through non-Amazon channels; some high profile indies are doing so well at other retailers that Amazon now represents less than half of their sales.”

It further points out that the Amazon market can be fickle. The market share for indie books at Amazon took a nose dive through part of last year, though it has largely recovered. Other sources of revenue can smooth overall income streams.

Sci-fi scribe Howey told us that he experimented with both wide release and exclusivity, finding he made far more money and reached far more people by gaining access to the Kindle Unlimited audience. Romance superstar Marie Force, by contrast, told us that she would never close a road by which a new reader could find her work.

The two stances illustrate the question facing every indie author. Amazon is by far the largest market for e-books and, if Kindle Unlimited were its own company, it would be the third largest e-book seller. “To completely ignore a retail channel of that size makes zero sense,” the report contends.

On the other hand, writers without a following may feel they can ill afford skipping any market. There’s more than enough money changing hands on any of the major channels to afford any writer a very good living if they can only attain a small piece of any one.

Author Earnings muddies the waters by noting that “if a title appeals to Canadian or Australian audiences, it will be unavailable in the retailer channels where almost half of those countries’ e-book purchases occur.”

Author Earnings ultimately settles on a recommendation that can only work for writers who have more than a few books out: Put some into Kindle Unlimited and go wide with others. When an author blows up on one channel, readers who like the book that becomes popular often want to go back and read the rest, as another popular sci-fi writer, Christopher Nuttall, explained for us. But if a book becomes popular in Apple’s iBooks, readers won’t be able to buy the writer’s Kindle Unlimited books there.

On the other hand, Amazon only requires exclusivity in three month increments. So a writer could wait for that window to end, then add the books they held back to the other pools. Even if they lose money in the short term by leaving the Kindle Unlimited pool, it could be worth it in the long run to solidify new fans.

If it’s your first book: flip a coin.

The report provides a number of interesting insights about the market for e-books across the English speaking world. For example, while Amazon dominates all of these markets, Kobo is putting up a respectable fight for the $136 million spent on e-books in Canada, and Apple is making a strong showing for the $126 million market in Australia (the US e-book market represents more than $3.2 billion). Read the report itself for other insights.

Author Earnings derives its data by scraping the sales rankings off of various e-book retailers’ sites and correlating that with final sales data shared with those that run Author Earnings. These two pools of information allow it to derive estimates for all e-books sold. More on its methodology can be found here.


Should Indie Authors Publish Exclusively With Amazon or Not?


Amazon Unveils First East Coast Bricks and Mortar

Online retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. plans to open its first New York City bookstore in Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, the company said late Wednesday.

The 4,000-square-foot store is slated to open in the spring in the Shops at Columbus Circle on the edge the Central Park. The multistory shopping center, owned by Related Cos., is home to clothing and shoe stores such as Coach and Cole Haan as well as several upscale restaurants, including Per Se.

Amazon AMZN, +0.16%   is excited with its location in the Time Warner Center, a spokeswoman said in an email. A Related Cos. spokeswoman also expressed excitement with the deal.

Amazon has been making a push into the brick-and-mortar retail sector after focusing on online sales for many years. Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle in 2015 and now has two others — in San Diego and in Portland, Ore. Plans are in the works for stores in Chicago and Dedham, Mass.




Turn Automatic Book Updates On or Off

You can opt to receive updates automatically for some of your Kindle books. A new book version will be made available after we confirm improvements were made to your Kindle book.

Before you enable the Automatic Book Update feature, make sure Annotations Backup is turned on for your Fire tablet, Kindle E-reader, or Kindle reading app to sync your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and furthest page read. For more information, go to Back Up Your Bookmarks, Notes & Highlights.

Note: Annotations Backup is enabled automatically and can’t be turned off on Fire tablets.

To enable Automatic Book Updates:

  1. Go to Manage Your Content and Devices.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Automatic Book Update to expand the section. Select On to receive automatic updates for your book, or select Off to receive an email notification when an update is available to download.

Notifying Customers of Book Updates

You’re always welcome to update a book of yours at any time, and republish it to include the changes. Customers who buy your book after you republish will receive the updates. Customers who purchased your book before you made changes will keep the original version.

In some cases, you may find serious defects in a published book. If you correct these and republish, we’ll make the updates available to customers via their Manage Your Kindle page, as well as listing the latest version of your book in the Kindle Store. To justify alerting customers about an update like this, the new version would have to correct problems that made it very difficult for customers to read the book.

Sending customers an update may erase any notes or highlights they entered, so the improvements must outweigh those disadvantages.

If You Make Updates

To inform us of significant corrections like these, click “Contact Us” below. Please provide details and specific examples of your corrections. We’ll review the book within seven days, and may take one of the following actions:

Corrections to distracting errors. If we find only minor corrections, we won’t notify customers who already own a copy by email, but we’ll activate their ability to update the content through the “Manage Your Content and Devices” page on Amazon.com.

Corrections to destructive or critical errors. If we find major corrections, we will alert all customers who own the book via email.  These customers can choose to receive the update through their “Manage Your Content and Devices” page on Amazon.com.

Additional corrections to critical errors needed. If we find more major corrections are needed, we will temporarily remove your book from sale. We’ll notify you of the issues we found so that you can fix them. Once the improvements are made, just let us know and we’ll email customers just as with major corrections.

Please review our Guide to Kindle Content Quality for information on the most common types of quality issues. Make sure to provide detailed examples of the corrections made when submitting your request.

Some examples of corrections that don’t justify sending updates to customers who previously purchased your book are:

  • New Content Added: Chapter(s) or page(s) added, deleted or revised; new images added; bonus chapter added.
  • Book Plot or Character Changes: Character’s name changed; book ending changed.
  • Marketing Information: Links or marketing info added, deleted, or modified.


Check Your Updates

If you purchased a copy of your book and need to see updates, click “Contact Us” and we will send the updated content to your device. You won’t need to purchase it again.

To receive updates to your Kindle books automatically

1. Turn on the Annotations Backup* for your Kindle device or Kindle reading app to sync your notes, highlights, bookmarks, and furthest page read
2. Go to the Manage Your Content and Devices page
3. Select “Automatic Book Update” under the Settings tab
4. Select “On” from the dropdown menu

Note: The Automatic Book Update feature may not yet be available for markets outside of the U.S.

*The following devices automatically enable the Annotations Backup:  Fire HD, Fire HDX, Kindle for Android, Kindle for Windows 8, and Kindle for BlackBerry 10. 
As a result, you cannot turn off the Annotations Backup.

7 Tips for Amazon Keywords and Best Selling Books

Best selling books are more likely to happen when authors use smart Amazon keywords. When used wisely, keywords help strangers from all over the world find your books. Most authors are missing out because the whole metadata thing can be confusing. Think of it like this:

  • At bookstores, readers browse in sections where covers, titles and blurbs help them decide to inspect further.
  • Online, readers type phrases into the search bar where the most relevant books show up in the results (or the books Amazon thinks are most relevant).

Obvious question: how to choose the best ones so the search engine at Amazon leads browsers to your book? Here are 7 tips to help select the best words and phrases plus a tutorial video at YouTube at the bottom of this post.

1. Make a list of words customers might use in the search bar to find what they want to read that is also what your book is about. This is called relevance. You don’t have to worry about a search for your name or book title. Those results will do fine on their own. You want to focus on subjects in your book like “travel writing” or “young adult romance” or “dating for women” as examples. From Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Along with factors like sales history and Amazon Best Sellers Rank, relevant keywords can boost your placement in search results on Amazon.com.

2. Test these words at Amazon. How? Type them into the search bar slowly, one letter at a time and watch as prompts appear with words Amazon thinks you might be looking for in the search field. Example: if you type in R-E-I, the word “reincarnation” comes up immediately in the drop-down menu but it takes R-E-I-N-C before “reincarnation books” appears. This indicates to me that reincarnation is probably a better choice than reincarnation books if that is a major subject in your story.

3. Cross-test the words at Google Keyword Planner. Since Amazon’s search bar gives no data on how often a term is searched, it’s wise to check terms and similar ones with Google and see if one word or phrase is much more popular than the other. Back to our example–let’s say you wanted to add a term like “reincarnation books” along with “reincarnation” to your list of 7 keywords (or phrases) at Amazon. By testing similar terms at Google, wouldn’t it be nice to know the term “reincarnation stories” gets searched 40 times more often than “reincarnation books” does? Thus, you’d be wise to use reincarnation stories rather than reincarnation books.

Remember to try multiple ways of writing the same thing with slight variations like “psychic” vs “psychics.” The tutorial video below demonstrates this is great detail or watch it on YouTube.

4. If possible, adding keywords to your book’s title or subtitle will do more good than at any other location since the title is most influential on search results. For non-fiction especially, your title must be related to search terms. For fiction, this can be hard if you already have a title and are set on keeping it. Perhaps the title is Dawn’s Quest. A brief subtitle will help bunches with keywords that actually get searched like Dawn’s Quest: A Caribbean Mystery. Don’t feel like doing that? I understand–most of my fiction titles don’t have keywords either, but it makes the battle that much harder to reach the top.

5. Some Categories are linked with Keyword Requirements

The genres below are designed to be linked with keyword suggestions that help rank books in certain categories. Click on the genre to see some of the recommended keywords to rank your book in the top #100 of a specific category. (Notice the yellow highlight example for “new adult” as a keyword requirement for the broader category of Romance–New Age & College–New Adult.)

6. Implement these tips with examples from Amazon:

Useful keyword types
● Setting (Colonial America)
● Character types (single dad, veteran)
● Character roles (strong female lead)